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Category Archives: porn

I don’t know why I am doing this either.

Hi! I’ve been quiet, haven’t I? Don’t worry darlings, it’s me, not you. It’s always all about me, you know that.

Anyway, as I made my re-emergence back into being Tallulah last night, my timing couldn’t have been better. Because there was quite the little Twitter storm happening about this piece. FsOTLG were het up. I eventually abandoned the conversation to go find some, you know, actual porn, of the kind that would make Gail Dines weep for my feminist soul. Except who am I kidding? Gail doesn’t think I’m a feminist at all.

Anyway, in the midst of the Twitter conversation, someone mentioned that if you’re going to have a “debate” about porn, you might want to include a sex-positive voice in there somewhere. So, in my yappy, annoying, interrupty way, I thought I’d interject myself into the “debate”.

[see how I keep putting that word into scare quotes? It's because I don't believe printing something that is essentially two people agreeing with each other is a "debate". Hence this post. Dines is a "noted anti-pornography campaigner. Smith admits to not actually knowing anything about the subject  - she believes porn is really, really bad, just not as bad as other stuff. Editors? We're right here. You want a counterpoint? Come ask us. Not all feminists agree. It's kind of a thing.]

So let’s begin. I’m just going to take the choicest quotes from Gail Dines, because she’s the one making the argument I most disagree with. But do go read the whole thing.

Radical feminists see the production and consumption of porn as a form of violence against women, while liberal, and many postmodern, feminists argue that it is an issue of sexual freedom, fantasy, choice and, in some cases, sexual liberation. The battle is actually one based on theoretical differences, since radical feminists situate their arguments within a wider social theory that owes much to a left-wing analysis of the role of images, culture, ideology and power in capitalist society

See how she gets that out of the way nice and early? Radical feminists are better than you. They know more, and their feminism takes more into account than big tits and cumshots. They’ve read more, discussed more, and think more.

For the record, if anyone wants to check my feminist credentials? I have a post-graduate degree, I read The Women’s Room at 13, The Beauty Myth at 15, and De Beauvoir in the original at 17. I abandoned my marxist politics when I realised no one in that particular room was having any fun, but I am perfectly capable of ‘situating’ my “I choose my choice” feminism within the dominant paradigm of patriarchal power structures. You can choose for yourself how much most of this paragraph has been taking the piss, because we all know how I feel about the One True Feminist idea.

Importantly, porn – with its reactionary ideas about women’s ‘natural’ role as fuck objects and its misogynistic representations of women enjoying humiliation and degradation at the hands of men – creates ideologies that support legal, economic and cultural sexism.

Le sigh. It is about here that I start getting bored. Because OH MY GOD, how many times are we going to have this particular conversation? I don’t know anyone who would argue there’s absolutely nothing problematic within the porn (and wider sex) industry. But to argue that all porn is “reactionary”, that every woman involved in, whether acting, making or enjoying porn is being subjugated, and that no woman ever enjoyed being humiliated? Well, it’s ridiculous, isn’t it? I don’t need to explain why, do I?

Type ‘porn’ into Google and click around the most well-travelled websites that appear. With mind-numbing repetition you will see gagging, slapping, verbal abuse, hair-pulling, pounding anal sex, women smeared in semen, sore anuses and vaginas, distended mouths, and more exhausted, depleted and shell-shocked women than you can count.

As I have said before when I have written on this subject, I’m not TLG’s resident porn expert. And I don’t watch a lot of porn, so I am mostly sheilded from the gagging, slapping, and hair-pulling….what? Sorry, got a little distracted there. So all I will say, is that if “type X into Google” is your main research, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. Pointed out by FOTLG in this discussion is some, you know, actual research.

…Physical aggression – including spanking, open-hand slapping and gagging – occurred in over 88 per cent of scenes, while expressions of verbal aggression – calling the woman names such as ‘bitch’ or ‘slut’ – were found in 48 per cent. The researchers concluded that ‘if we combine both physical and verbal aggression, our findings indicate that nearly 90 per cent of scenes contained at least one aggressive act, with an average of nearly twelve acts of aggression per scene’.1

Just FYI? Spanking, gagging, and calling names? Not necessarily inherently aggressive, nor inherently degrading, depending on the context.

Porn is an industry, and like other industries it shapes the way we live. The fashion industry shapes the way we dress, the food industry the way we eat, and the sex industry the way we think and have sex. To argue otherwise would be to make the ridiculous claim that the only industry that has no power in the real world is porn.

Except that what porn depicts is by and large, fantasy. That there are people who can’t tell the difference between that and reality is, yes, worrying. But so are the people who can’t recognise that the models in Vogue don’t look like actual women, and the clothes they are wearing are worth about a year’s salary for most people. The fashion and food industry are selling us products. Porn is the product. It exists to sell itself. Which is not to say that is isn’t selling something, nor that it isn’t shaping culture and behaviour. But it’s different.

They understand that systems of inequality are never secured once and for all, thus part of the work of the elite is to produce a hegemonic ideology that convinces both the oppressor and the oppressed class that the system is fair, just and unchangeable. To drive a wedge between the material and the ideological, as Smith does, is to ignore the complex ways that systems of inequality produce and reproduce themselves across time and place.

Yes. Because there are no women working to make the porn industry more accountable to, and produced for, women. ALL the women involved are oppressed. No woman ever has stood up and said ‘I don’t care that you saw it online, I’m not doing that.” No man has ever said, “you know what? That scene is kind of rapey, and I don’t want to act it”. There’s never, ever been anything in a mainstream hollywood movie that gets anywhere close to what’s happening in the world of porn.

I hope Smith is right and we are beginning to see some change in the air, but I do not have any faith whatsoever in any man, Left or Right, who has learned his sex education from porn. For real change to happen, men need to see women as full human beings with an absolute right to equality. Try telling that to the guys who jerk off to SUCKMEBITCH.COM.

Oh Gail. You know what? I am not sure if I believe you have faith in any man. Left or right (because those are the only two classifiers), porn-watching or chaste. Regardless of where he got his sex education. But you’re right, we should be very wary of anyone who got their sex education from pornography. Mostly because, likely, they are going to be really shit in bed. But there are plenty, plenty of men who see women as full, equal, upright citizens who enjoy a nice bit of anal porn with their tea and biscuits. That there are people who take the fantasies and extremities portrayed on suckmebitch.com seriously – speaks to a bigger social ill.

Look. The conceit of the article is “whether porn should be a priority for the women’s movement”. We live in a world where legislators can’t say “vagina”. Yes, porn should be a priority, but not in the way Dines means.

Porn Tue(Thur)sday: The Marcia Edition

I think women who participate in pornography, and those who condone it are disrespecting themselves.

After Tallulah’s post re: The Wellington Young Feminists Facebook Kerfuffle, it seemed like an appropriate time to post some more links to porn. Because now Marcia has left, I really will have to go back to disrespecting myself, instead of just having her do it for me. It’s either that or just sit home playing with my magic vagina.

Please assume all links are NSFW. By that I mean, not safe for Actual Workplaces.

Here is the trailer for Erika Lust’s Life Love Lust - moderately explicit, some nudity, possibly excessive use of tattoos.

But that, clearly, is not what Marcia means by porn. Porn is

sex as an act done to a woman by a man, or several woman at once, or an act done by two or more men to a woman, or encourages violence against women.

So let’s find something a little more “choky and rapey”, shall we? How about some of Maria Beatty’s work? – mildly explicit, BDSM, lesbianism. That spur? Yeah.

Or how about this? That’s horrible BDSM porn too. Well, again, there are no men, and that clip is, while powerfully erotic, perhaps not what a lot of people would be happy calling “porn”. When that spreader bar appears? That’s not intended to arouse, right? And then there’s all that laughter and genuine pleasure.

This is porn, though, definitely: the trailer for Petra Joy’s new film The Female Voyeur - highly explicit, group, domination, bi material. Finally, we’re finding an act done by two or more men… oh, no, that’s to each other… There are several women at once…

You know what? I think I’ll just stay deluded, and stick to listening to people who don’t call me a whore.

Pornish Tuesday: Wait, That’s a Metaphor for Something…

My near-total web silence over the last week was caused by an enormously-enjoyable trip to Wellington. I was going to write intelligently on sex education when I came back, but Tallulah has beaten me to it (so to speak) and one of my lovely friends has given me a death-cold.

But, while I was away I stayed with an old university friend of mine, and we took a brief trip through our old Renaissance Lit reading material. So today’s porn is the written porn of the 1630s. If you wish to read along, please turn to this page in your internet. Those of you who own “Hollander and Kermode” can turn to page 620. Thomas Carew’s A Rapture. This is “a masterpiece of erotic vision strengthened, rather than kept in check by, the action of wit.” As all erotic vision should be.

A Rapture is a glorious exploration of just how unsubtle you can make a sexual metaphor. Seriously. Get this:

Now in more subtle wreaths I will entwine
My sinewy thighs, my legs and arms with thine ;                  80
Thou like a sea of milk shalt lie display’d,
Whilst I the smooth calm ocean invade
With such a tempest, as when Jove of old
Fell down on Danaë in a storm of gold ;
Yet my tall pine shall in the Cyprian strait                            85
Ride safe at anchor and unlade her freight :
My rudder with thy bold hand, like a tried
And skilful pilot, thou shalt steer, and guide
My bark into love’s channel, where it shall
Dance, as the bounding waves do rise or fall.

I am seriously tempted to try “Want I should steer your rudder?” as a pick-up line. Or at least I would be, if I were That Sort of Person.

There’s more to it than just the delicious smut, though.

There, no rude sounds shake us with sudden starts ;
No jealous ears, when we unrip our hearts,                       100
Suck our discourse in ; no observing spies
This blush, that glance traduce ; no envious eyes
Watch our close meetings ; nor are we betray’d
To rivals by the bribed chambermaid.
No wedlock bonds unwreathe our twisted loves,               105
We seek no midnight arbour, no dark groves
To hide our kisses : there, the hated name
Of husband, wife, lust, modest, chaste or shame,
Are vain and empty words, whose very sound
Was never heard in the Elysian ground.                             110
All things are lawful there, that may delight
Nature or unrestrained appetite ;
Like and enjoy, to will and act is one :
We only sin when Love’s rites are not done.

Carew has some ideas about the essential sexual nature of women, too:

Come then, my Celia, we’ll no more forbear
To taste our joys, struck with a panic fear,
But will depose from his imperious sway
This proud usurper, and walk as free as they,                    150
With necks unyoked ; nor is it just that he
Should fetter your soft sex with chastity,
Whom Nature made unapt for abstinence ;

Tallulah and I may have some inappropriate remarks about fetters and chastity, but the less said the better. No, wait, that’s exactly wrong…

Pornish Tuesday: Doing it for, or to, Ourselves

I feel a touch guilty every time I see someone has found this site by searching for “porn Tuesday”. Still happens occasionally. So, a Tuesday, and a post with some porn in it. Links are, entirely, NSFW.

The trailer for Erika Lust’s new film, Cabaret Desire, is out. Caution: trigger warning for sexual assault (one brief scene cut contextless) and vajazzling. I do like her films, but her euro-trash goth vibe I’m a bit ambivalent about. Possibly this is cultural. And this reminds me that I haven’t shared my favourite of her films with you: Handcuffs. That’s a complete short film, and I’m sure it could spark an interesting debate about the concept of “female gaze”. The watcher is female. The object of the gaze is also, clearly, the other woman.

Also, catching my interest, the short for Louise Lush’s new film, The Thought of Her. This is a male masturbation film, and when he says, “I can’t stop thinking about her,” that’s, um, pretty hot.

And it got me thinking. It’s at least possible to see why we have constructed shame narratives around pornography, or certain kinds of sex. But masturbation? The majority of people do it. It’s extremely pleasurable, and absolutely and completely harmless. I just can’t come up with any kind of construction, spurious or not, to see it as harmful. (And before it comes up, the “sin of Onan” was refusing to impregnate his brother’s widow. He wasn’t even masturbating, he was practicing withdrawal. What the Old Testament actually says about masturbation is pretty much “now wash your hands”. Good advice.)

So. Yeah. Wanking. Awesome. Being ashamed of something perfectly normal? Not awesome.

 

Quickie* – Women using porn

Via Feminist Law Professors, which I got to via the F-Word’s link round-up, a story from CNN about research that shows that women like porn.

Are more women OK with watching porn?

It’s an old story – 2009 – but I think it’s worth revisiting some salient points.

  • 1 in 3 women search for internet porn (according to Nielsen/NetRatings, so the stats are heavily skewed to North America, so bear in mind that the 1 in 3 figure almost certainly varies cross-culturally).
  • Women often seem to feel that they shouldn’t enjoy porn, so even when their bodies are aroused, their heads may send them a conflicting message.
  • It seems that women may be at least as stimulated by porn as men are.

I think that one of the best things about research into women’s use of porn is that it is ennabling. Someone who feels that she is weird and out of sync for liking porn is someone who is making an epistemic mistake. She may feel much more able to express her sexual desires with respect to porn and using porn if she realises that she is not the only one, and that a high proportion of her friends and colleagues and neighbours are likely to be using porn too.

Thoughts?

* Other blogs have ‘Quick hits’. I don’t like that phrase so much (too close to violence for my liking), and I figure that around here, ‘Quickie’ will go down well.

The Internet Killed the Video Star

It’s quite possible that this will be the last Porn Tuesday post. Ever. Or for a while. Or until something happens. Or at least the last by me. Because we’re very happy to host guest posts on the topic. But this is the last of the myths I want to deal with.

In the course of my life-time, one invention has done more than any other to increase the availability of pornography. It brought visual porn into the home in a way it never had been before. With it came moral panics, what’s been called the Golden Age of Censorship, and a real fear about what the effect of this permeation of sexually-explicit material into our society might be.

That invention was, of course, the video recorder.

Before that, if you wanted to see an X-rated movie, you had to go to the kind of theatre that showed them. Difficult for most men, socially impossible for women. (That is, unless you were one of the few people with grubby Super 8 in the basement.) Now you could discreetly rent a couple of movies, take them home and watch them in private.

Quite simply, every technology has been used for pornography pretty much right off the bat. There’s nothing special about the internet. The ballooning in the availability of porn isn’t a decade old, it’s a generation. It’s thirty years. That’s plenty of time for social catastrophe to rock along if it was going to.

What the internet has done for porn is what it’s done for music, really: it’s taken power away from the studios, made producing and distributing your own material cheaper and easier, and so broadened the selection of what’s available. Yes, it’s also increased availability and made it harder to police, age-wise, who’s watching what, but (IMO) not as profoundly as the VCR.

So, what’s been the effect? It’s really hard to tell with studies of individuals, because Causation. Basically, if someone is a sexist arsehole and watches a lot of porn, you can’t tell if A causes B, B causes A, or if the two things are completely unrelated.

There are population studies*, though, and what they show is something that shouldn’t be too surprising if you ponder these two questions in isolation.

Since, say, the 50s, has violence against women become more or less socially acceptable?

Since, say, the 50s, has pornography become more or less freely available?

Given the really obvious answers to those questions, can we really suggest that pornography causes (or even “fuels”) violence against women?

Please note I don’t wish to imply that pornography decreases violence against women. Some people do argue that, I’m not convinced. I think we’re in a “pirates and global warming” situation. What I am saying is that it’s… interesting to suggest a correlation between two lines trending in opposite directions.

This here is where the conclusions would go, if that was what this was about. I think it’s pretty clear where I’m coming from. You want to take away my porn, I do think you should have to be able to prove that it’s doing some concrete damage somewhere, and someHOW. Also, I think we’ve got ourselves in a real mess with censorship (illustrated most clearly by a case in the States where a teenage girl was charged, as an adult, with child pornography offensese, for taking a photograph OF HERSELF), while managing to convince ourselves that we live in a time of unprecidented sexual licence.

But feel free to disagree. This has all been about getting people thinking and talking.

*Somewhere, in the piles of links in my porn-columns folder, I have links to two individual studies and one meta-study, all of which concur. I just can’t fucking FIND them right now.

Porn Tuesday: Fucking It Up

At this point, I want to take a minute to examine the way people were living, and how that affected their attitudes to sex. Again, the same caveats as the last column: these are very broad brush strokes, things happen gradually and are always more complicated than a brief run-down can accommodate.

So, in medieval times, people live much more communally than now, and this includes sleeping. Everyone sleeps together in the hall. Even if the lord and lady of the manor have a separate room – a solar – they will share it with their servants and children. There is no concept that you have a room that you go to to sleep – or have sex – in private.

In the Renaissance, the bedroom becomes something of an audience chamber for your closest friends and advisors – rather like your room in a student flat, you take your friends in there to talk. Bathing and dressing would happen with an audience.

By the Georgian period, this starts to change. Even for the middle classes, houses become big enough, and easy enough to heat, that children have their own rooms, and so do servants. The bedroom becomes a private place. By Victorian times, well-mannered married couples sleep alone, in adjacent rooms.

It’s important to note that this progress to privacy for sleeping – and for sex – lagged behind for the lower classes. So in that same Victorian period, the working class were still living in dismal two-room dwellings, and having sex in the same room where their children slept.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive enough to expect that bed has ever been the only place to have sex, but also if you’re working a twelve or sixteen hour day, bed may be the only chance you get.

Another strand of the weave. In 1805, William Wordsworth wrote a poem called Intimations of Immortality. In it, he explores the idea that children have purer souls: they’re more innocent and closer to God, and have a purity of vision that people lose as they grow older. At the time these ideas are actually pretty controversial, and he enters a spirited debate with Coleridge. By the mid-Victorian period, the sentimental idea of childhood innocence is pretty much standard. We still cling to it now, even those of us who’ve actually raised children. It is, however, fairly recent, and came out of an age when the children of the working class were being sent up chimneys and down mines.

So, now our children are sleeping apart from us for the most part, and we believe they have a special purity that is tainted by adult things.

At the same time, social and  technological advances – notably the printing press and universal schooling – were making visual and written art available on an unprecedented scale. Along came Fanny Hill, and non-political censorship.

The Americans were particularly keen on sexual censorship, as championed by Anthony Comstock. Comstock’s battle against pornography included his championing the banning of anatomy textbooks and birth control information. One noted distributor of “marriage manuals”, Ida Craddock, explicitly blamed Comstock in her suicide note. (Much as I hate to say so, in Comstock’s defence, it seems likely Craddock was not of entirely sound mind.)

Comstock’s aim was to protect those of “weaker mind”:

 the assumption always was that if you were well-educated, if you were upper class, you could consume erotica, you could consume pornography, with no ill effects. And there’s a sort of built-in prejudice against what we assume to be sort of uneducated minds, and this was the way Anthony Comstock sort of characterised the danger. He thought that the real problem was that what he called ‘immature minds’ might stumble across material like this. And of course he launched these campaigns to stamp it out. And what he meant by immature minds were the minds of children, the minds of immigrants, because they were always suspicious and to him they were always lower class. And women, who were thought to be weaker, so that they had to be protected.

So. No more porn on the walls. But it’s better, right? Our children are free to be children? Because the sight of consensual pleasurable sex is somehow deeply, inherently damaging to children. “Sexualising” children is bad. Sex is a deeply private thing – and that’s not at all because we regard it as shameful.

From Not in Front of the Children “Indecency,” Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth:

 Intellectual protectionism frustrates rather than enhances young people’s mental agility and capacity to deal with the world. It inhibits straightforward discussion about sex. Indeed, like TV violence, censorship may also have “modeling effects,” teaching authoritarianism, intolerance for unpopular opinions, erotophobia, and sexual guilt. Censorship is an avoidance technique that addresses adult anxieties and satisfies symbolic concerns, but ultimately does nothing to resolve social problems or affirmatively help adolescents and children cope with their environments and impulses or navigate the dense and insistent media barrage that surrounds them.

Now, these days in New Zealand we censor for a few remaining reasons: drug use, violence and sex. Is it really completely outrageous to ask, what real demonstrable harm is done by depictions of sex? By encouraging a culture where we’re almost unable to speak about sex at all, where we censor it from relationships and put it in the “porn ghetto”, are we really doing our children more good than harm?

I’m actually asking that question, as a Big Fan of evidence-based policy-making. All I really want people to take from this is the idea that censorship is not a natural state, and that our “society” has not always been more repressive than it is now.

Porn Tuesday: The Good Old Days

Yes, I know. It isn’t Tuesday. We break for major earthquakes. Partly due a suspicion of earthquake-brain, I’m scaling back my original plan for this post and I’ll be providing links rather than going into great detail about information that’s on other sites. Hopefully, we’ll end up with a good primer, and ‘more’ for people who want it.

So. Today I want to take us back in time, to an age before pornography was invented. I don’t mean before there was sexually-explicit art, because that’s really not possible. I mean, before those works of art became problematic, before sex became something not ever to be talked about, even in private. So, about three hundred and fifty years.

And yes, I’m very conscious that I’m largely talking about a Classically-inspired British culture, its changes in mores and technological developments. As a Pakeha, that’s my dominant culture, and I wouldn’t feel it appropriate for me to talk about any other. If other people want to, that would be fabulous.

Also, there’ll be generalisations. Social change happens slowly, and no society is a cohesive whole. In any age, different people have believed completely different things. So those are things to bear in mind.

I’d also strongly recommend listening to or reading the transcript of, a brilliant ABC program on the history of pornography, which basically covers everything I’m going to in the next couple of columns.

One of the clearest illustrations of how attitudes to sex have changed is the Secret Museum. Artefacts uncovered during the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum proved so problematic in their sexual imagery that they were locked away from the general public. Up until the 1960s, frescos at Pompeii could be viewed, for a fee, by men, but not by women. We’ll return to the idea that men can handle looking at sexual material but women can’t at a later date. Possibly even next week.

Basically, in Roman society, sexually-explicit art was seen as desirable. Low-grade taberna would have erotic friezes painted on the walls to make them seem classier. One house in Pompeii contained art on the walls and floors detailing sixteen different sex acts. This art wasn’t for private consumption or hidden from children, and nor was it stuff we would now excuse for its artistic merit.

 

They had brothels too – prostitutes were the only people, apart from free-born men, allowed to wear the toga virilis – and public personal ads. Our idea of the proper Roman matron stutters when confronted with inscriptions like this:

Maritimus licks your vulva for 4 As. He is ready to serve virgins as well.

This is not, obviously, to say Roman society didn’t have some well fucked-up ideas about sex, but we’re dealing with porn specifically, or I’d never finish this.

It wasn’t just the Romans, of course, or even just the Greeks and Romans, or even just the Classicists. Everyone was at it. Pompeii and Herculaneum just make particularly stark examples because of the way the ash has preserved the art, and the inarguably public nature of it.

A lot of ancient explicit art we often dismiss as sexual because it appears to be religious. It’s a fertility statue, right? And if you can have a 30′ solid gold penis in a victory parade (those Ptolemys, they knew how to party), it’s not really sexual, right? Right? There’s no reason art can’t be religious or political, and also erotic.

There’s a tendency, when we’re not thinking about it very hard, to assume that our history has been a constant drift towards increasing liberalism, but this simply isn’t true. The older state is “sex in the public square”, absolutely in front of the children. Censorship was imposed on that, and we’ve now come to a point where, instead of justifying why something should be banned or restricted, the debate is entirely focussed on justifying why things should be allowed to be seen.

Next week, we’ll look at how we got there: the Georgians invent “privacy”, and Wordsworth fucks shit up for everyone.

Porn Tuesday: Or, It’s Just the Same

Hello, people. You might remember last week, before all the discussions on car theft, I was showing you how “porn for women” was different, in defiance of the general Women Against Pornography line. This week, I want to ask a question: why should it have to be?

Here’s the thing: what if stereotypes turn you on?

 What happens when you’re a sucker for that romance novel situation where the big hunky hero carries you off for lusty sex after rescuing you from the bad guys? What happens if the sexual fantasies you use to get off involve being dominated by your husband? What happens if you get wet thinking about being deflowered and “taught” by an older, more knowledgeable man? Or if you like the idea of being “objectified” by a man, or an audience of men?

See, in promoting the New Pornography, we come perilously close to saying, “When pople are smiling, laughing, playing? That makes it okay. When the oral sex is cunnilingus, that’s okay. When the woman (or women) are directing the play, that’s okay. When the sex is gay or lebsian or kinky, that makes it okay.”

But what if, as a woman, you like gonzo porn? What if you have rape fantasies? What if you enjoy the idea of being dominated, of being pushed around? What if the fantasy of being taken by a rugby team makes you hot? Is that “not okay”?

From a sex-positive point of view, the answer has to be, there is no “not okay”. To quote the brilliant Clarisse Thorn, there is no “should”. Even if your sexual desires are old-fashioned, vanilla, normal, they’re still okay. And they’re not misogynist. What would be misogynist would be telling women which desires were appropriate for them to have. And no sexual fantasy can possibly make you a Bad Feminist.

The guilt of having “stereotypical” desires turns up in male Doms and female subs quite a bit, especially when people are first starting to explore those desires. Contrary to the idea of “stereotype”, or the Dines idea of socially-constructed sexuality, men are strongly conditioned NOT to hit women, even if the woman in question has made it perfectly clear that’s what she wants.

There’s a much wider acceptance of kink, particularly of BDSM, than there used to be. But those desires exist in the wider, het-vanilla sex world as well. Men and women who have dominance fantasies. And if it’s a positive thing for LGBT and kinky people to express their sexuality and take pride in it, and to have their porn that reflects their desires, it’s okay for straight vanilla people too.

Porn Tuesday: None So Blind

As I see it, one of the main problems with the internet is that people don’t watch enough porn.

Stay with me here.

There’ve been a few articles in mainstream newspapers about “porn for women” lately, particularly after this year’s Feminist Porn Awards. The article in The Guardian was quite useful, especially given their history of providing a platform for a certain kind of anti-porn anti-prostitution female columnist. And the Sydney Morning Herald ran a piece after an Australian pornographer was nominated for an award.

What fascinates me is that in the comments to both articles you’ll find screeds of people happy to offer an opinion on the New Pornography, and how it’s just like the Old Pornography. “I don’t see how it’s any different!” And you know why? Because you haven’t fucking looked.

I know, the net is all about offering up unqualified opinion, and why should I find other people’s screaming ignorance embarrassing when they clearly don’t? Tough. I do.

And if you were dubious but curious, the SMH went to the trouble of getting in an expert to offer up a dissenting opinion. They don’t make it clear why they chose to ask a professor of Political Science, but she’s pretty adamant: “no pornography can break away from a male-orientated view of sex.”

She’s also Sheila Jeffreys. Sheila Jeffreys is the Gail Dines of Australia. Here’s Louise Lush (also known as Ms Naughty) on Jeffreys. And here’s Questioning Transphobia on Jeffreys’ issues in that area. And hey, here’s an Australian sex worker who has the odd entry tagged “Sheila Fucking Jeffreys“. For the trifecta, Jeffreys sees BDSM as inherently male sexual oppression of women, and boy do you have to erase a lot of people to do that. Maybe, though, I should just let her speak for herself:

 all feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women.

Yes, that’s right, she advocates political lesbianism, the kind of lesbianism that doesn’t include being sexually attracted to women.

So, if the positive voices are pornographers and the negative voices are batfuck crazy, how can you find out for yourself what the New Pornography is like?

Watch some porn.

And yeah, it’s a big, scary, squicky world to go out into with no guidance. So this is my first task: to provide you with a gentle ‘in’, a glimpse of what there is, without pushing people’s boundaries too far. By no means should anyone feel pressured to watch anything I link to. However. If you won’t even look? When it comes to talking about pornography? Shut the fuck up, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

I can promise you:

- no grainy blue film stock

- no boomchickawaawaa music

- no enormous hair or freaking scary fake fingernails

because seriously, it’s not the 80s any more, okay?

When it comes to positive sexual imagery, there is no height to which I cannot recommend the Sex Is Not The Enemy Tumblr (NSFW, explicit sexual imagery). Note the smiling, and the laughter.

Here, in a totally safe-for-work, won’t be taken down by YouTube fashion, Ms Naughty explores the idea of what porn for women actually is. (Men doing housework? Fucking seriously?)

Now, trailers and shorts. The great thing about trailers for my purposes here is that they give you a taste without going all the way. So while they’re explicit, you won’t be encountering prolonged sex scenes.

If you manage to watch one thing, make it this: the trailer for Erika Lust’s Barcelona Sex Project. (NSFW, explicit, wear your headphones, seriously.) Three men and three women, one by one, first do an interview, and then masturbate to orgasm. One of them does it wearing stripy socks.

For less white light and the new classic goth-alt porn vibe, try her Room 33, a full short film. (NSFW, mildly explicit.)

One of the most well-regarded series, and winners of multiple Feminist Porn Awards, is Crash Pad. Here’s a perfectly safe YouTube taster, and here’s a short featuring Jiz Lee. (NSFW, explicit, actual lesbian sex.) If that’s a bit full on, Friend of the Blog Amie describes another one of the Crash Pad series here. Thanks, Amie.

I have a bunch more links here, but you know… I’m going to stop with this one, Bleu Productions. These are lesbian fetish and BDSM films. (NSFW, moderately explicit) Click on the TOP player on the right hand side to see a trailer of Maria Beatty’s work. If you click on the second player down, you’ll end up watching Vampire Sisters, and I laughed pretty hard.

From there, you could try the work of Anna Span or Candida Royale. Or, okay, one more, Comstock Films Bill and Desiree. (NSFW, mildly explicit.) (I was hesitant to include this, but I’ll just note that Comstock Films consider their work “erotic documentaries”, not porn.)

Can you see how it’s any different? That’s all I really want, for people to have this as their mental image, or at least a part of their mental image, when they think about pornography. You don’t have to think that therefore it’s okay, but at least know what the fuck you’re talking about.

There’s an obvious question that remains after all that, and we’ll get to that next time.

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