Porn for Women, Raunch Culture, Sex and Women — May 27, 2006 at 12:02 pm

But What If Stereotypes Turn You On?

Seems I’ve failed the sisterhood again – in Spanish, no less. Today I got a pingback from a Spanish blog called Girls Who Like Porno, commenting on this Erika Lust post. Judging from the garbled Babelfish translation, the post is not complimentary.

I had a look at their “about porno” page which features an English translation of their philosophy:

“[We are] Girls who don’t like some kind of porno, a porno restricted by sexism, racism, capitalism, patriarchy, gender boundaries and that leaves your compuer full with viruses.

“We enjoy creating and cosuming the porno we like: intelligent, queer, open, free and plural.”

Now, that’s a noble philosophy, one with which I can sympathise (although I’m not sure that fighting against computer viruses and the patriarchy is something that should be done concurrently). I believe mainstream porn needs to break out of a lot of the cliches and stop perpetuating things like racism and hatred towards women.

The thing about “gender boundaries” is probably where they’ve got their knickers in a knot with me (although I am something of a capitalist, so who knows). I am, after all, one of these evil pornographers who insists on showing hetero male-female sex, sometimes with a little bit of old-fashioned romance thrown in. I like the idea that sex should also involve love, at least occasionally. My porn features a few fantasies that involve the men having the power. Oh, and sin of sins, I label my erotica as “porn for women.”

Apparently this is “stereotypical” and should not be condoned. Ask some feminists and they’ll say it perpetuates the patriarchal male-female paradigm of sex where the man holds the power and helps to maintain a society where women are exploited and abused.

It’s an interesting political argument (and sounds very intellectual too, don’t you think?), but one issue that is often ignored in these sorts of debates is what happens when a woman is aroused by the very stereotypes that offend some feminists.

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?

I’m certain that many women have sexual fantasies that involve a male-female power paradigm forged by the patriarchal society, ones that rely on “gender boundaries” for their spark of heat. Our sexualities aren’t forged in a vacuum. Society teaches us what is sexy; it plants numerous seeds in our subconscious as children that may grow into individual preferences and desires as adulthood dawns. Fantasies and sexual urges are notorious for being politically incorrect.

The question is, are women who have “stereotypical” sexual fantasies wrong? Especially if they’re self aware and know that such fantasies may be “un-feminist” or politically incorrect? Should they deny that aspect of their sexuality? Can they be “re-educated” to be turned on by gender-neutral porn?

And can porn ever be gender neutral, considering it is all about sex and sexuality?

And just what is this perfect female sexuality that is free from the patriarchy? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How do you define it? How do you achieve it?

The recent conference about women and porn in Norway discussed this issue. I don’t think they found an answer.

I think I’d like those women who come here to attack me for being “stereotypical” to give the issue a little more thought. Yes, it’s a good thing to wave the flags in the air and demand a better kind of pornography, and I’m all for that. But replacing one sort of dogma with another is not necessarily a change for the better.

I think the last word should go to a young contributor to the book A Piece of Cake, commenting on the issue of the “male gaze” and subject/object politics in porn:

“According to one kind of feminist sensibility, we must demand we be subjects and avoid identification as sexual objects. Fine. However, women are brought up with our sexuality tied to our experience as objects. Our ability to feel sexy in many ways is rooted in our ability to be desirable i.e. to play the object role. It is important for us feminists not to condemn women for enjoying this role, because doing so stands in the way of women’s sexual fulfillment.” – Erin, 22

8 Comments

  1. good morning…
    just woke up and found your hot reply, a little bit too sleepy to answer properly, but I´ve liked your answer to my post, very energic!

    I think there are some things that are too different between us. You talk about a “husband”, and for me this word and this concept is completly out of my political beliefs

    as well as romantic love, no, I am not turned on by a guy that comes to me and says marry me, You´ll be mine forever!

    but I am turned on by stereotypes!!! very much indeed!!! I loved erika lust´s film! I didn´t like this interview she made in france, her attitude towards women and the industry of porn, it is like too reformist for me

    revolution is my boyfriend!

  2. Hi Maria
    Thanks for responding to my post. I appreciate it. And I’m glad that you are out there, forging your own path, demanding good, realistic, truthful depictions of sex that reflect your experience.

    My viewpoint is that of a woman who is straight, married and monogomous. In the brave new world of sex blogging, pansexual porn and radical feminism, that may define me as an unenlightened, stick-in-the-mud, but I refuse to accept that my point of view and my experiences are less feminist or valuable than anyone else’s. This means I tend to get rather defensive. I got this way after several long arguments with a radical porn feminist. She made me rethink a few of my assumptions, but I also realised that I don’t have to apologise for who I am or for my vision of sexuality.

    Yes, I can see we’re different, but I know we also agree on some things, and that’s cool. I wish you every success with your revolution. As you say, there may come a day when “porno for girls” is no longer a necessary concept and I think that idea has some validity. It will be a good day indeed when porn is properly representative of every human experience.

  3. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I think it is absolutely all right for a woman to want that big hunky male to sweep her off her feet. Is it giving in to the patriarchy if I want a knight in shining armor? No. Because I *want* him; I don’t *need* him.
    The important thing to realize is that all people depend on each other. People need companionship. I may value my independence, but sometimes I just want lusty masculine bravado in my bed. It doesn’t make me a damsel in distress.

  4. Shakes, thanks for your comment. Love the bit about the difference between “want” and “need”. It’s spot on.

  5. Pingback: » Radical Feminists Vs Porn For Women : Ms Naughty Porn for Women Blog

  6. Pingback: » Porn For Women Retrospective 2006 : Ms Naughty Porn for Women Blog

  7. I think the biggest issue would be the amount of men with the “I don’t care, I got mine anyway attitude” versus the number of women who can feel the same.

    Porn is about sexual pleasure.
    Male sexual pleasure functions off of the fact that orgasm is quite often finite.

    I think the way to see the middle in the masculinist/feminist & Male Chauvinist/ Female Chauvinist dichotomy is by actually featuring Female Chauvinists (Women who get theirs and don’t care) and Masculinists (senual men).

  8. Pingback: Porn Tuesday: Or, It’s Just the Same « The Lady Garden