Behind Closed Doors: Feminist Porn Means Equal Pleasure for Equal Work

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February 20, 2017

10:03 PM

In the middle of the movie, “Two Weeks’ Notice,” a drunk Sandra Bullock says to Hugh Grant, “That’s what men want, right? That is their dream. The twisty, bobcat kind of pretzel … because that’s what you want, and I bet I could give you a twisty, bobcat pretzel.” Hugh Grant seems impressed. I’m kind of impressed too, because why wouldn’t I also want to claim mastery of secret sex moves that combine flexibility with the sensual ferocity of a feral cat? Except, where on earth did we learn that in order to be considered good at sex, we have to be twisty, bobcat pretzels? No offense, Sandra Bullock, but that sort of vigorous twistiness sounds dangerous for anyone other than the pros.

If you ask me, “Cosmopolitan” headlines about “69 Moves that will Drive Him Crazy!” aside, the biggest culprit of generating bizarre ideas about how to have “better” sex is porn.

Arguments against mainstream porn tend to criticize its one-sided, hetero-patriarchal focus on male pleasure. Even a lot of mainstream lesbian porn is filmed with the male gaze in mind, turning scenes of more diverse passion into fetishized objectification. Heterosexual scenes often include elements of female humiliation and violence, which feed into internalized misogyny and rape culture.

This focus on the male viewer also means that rather than depicting what might actually be pleasurable for any individual who is not a cisgender, heterosexual male, despite the actors’ gasps and moans, there is no guarantee that they are enjoying themselves. That’s right, sometimes, not even the men.

A friend of mine was once told by a guy she was hooking up with, “I don’t have any lube, but it’s okay, you can use saliva as lube for anal, I saw it in porn.” As you might guess, neither of them was very happy by the end of this experiment.

What’s visually arousing may not be physically arousing … or comfortable at all … or safe.

But a new genre of X-rated content is here to change it all, one titillating video at a time. Welcome to the era of feminist porn.

But, honestly, in this political climate in which it’s becoming more important to support factual and honest news sources, why not go ahead and support factual and honest porn?

So what exactly is feminist porn, and what does it look like? Just as the feminist movement encapsulates a broad range of actions which work to increase equality between the sexes, feminist porn can mean many things. It means depicting more diverse representations of sexuality, including gay and trans actors and people with a range of body types, ages, races, etc. without doing so solely to fetishize differences. It means showing equal passion, emotion and pleasure between the actors involved in the scene regardless of their gender. It means depicting a wide range of sexual acts that are safe and actually feel good.

As feminist pornographer, Tristan Taormino said in an interview titled, “What Makes Feminist Porn Feminist?” with feministing.com, she aims to give her performers more creative control over their scenes.

“I’m interested in genuine female pleasure and genuine female orgasms,” Taormino said in the interview.

The main problem with feminist porn at the moment is that, despite growing support, it still is not as widespread as your usual Pornhub brand of sexual filmography. As a result, you won’t find much of it online for free. As feminist directors battle a stifling industry, they must necessarily rely on payment for their work in order to produce more of it. But, honestly, in this political climate in which it’s becoming more important to support factual and honest news sources, why not go ahead and support factual and honest porn?

If you want to read more about feminist porn, I’d highly recommend going to everydayfeminism.com and reading articles like Russell O’Connor’s article, “What Does Feminist Porn Look Like?” or Rebecca Santiago’s article, “Feminist Porn 101: Your Guide To Empowering Sexytimes.” Both articles go into greater detail about how feminist porn is working to combat issues of objectification, misogyny, and heteronormativity in porn. They also have a couple of suggestions for where to start your search for feminist porn.

Elizabeth Barto is a Behind Closed Doors columnist who is tired of twisty, bobcat pretzel expectations and ready for the new era of feminist porn.

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  • Elizabeth B.