Feminist Porn Awards Fallout

Following last weekend’s Feminist Porn Awards, there’s been the inevitable debate about whether feminist porn can even exist.

Violet Blue’s SFGate column
discusses the idea and at the time of writing there are no less than 806 comments. I have only read the first 6… it’s too nice a day to even consider going through the rest.

There’s also a high-falutin’ discussion at Finally Feminism 101. This one is interesting because the hardcore feminists join in and the term “the patriarchy” gets thrown around with abandon. Not surprisingly, plenty of true believers are still offering up that “false consciousness” argument that if you’re a woman who enjoys porn (or heterosexual sex for that matter) you’re a victim of the overwhelming patriarchal culture that pervades all our thoughts and influences everything we do… Essentially you’re a victim no matter which way you look at it and the only way to get free is to become a lesbian and quit watching porn.

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I’ve also added my own comment down the bottom. Here’s a bit of it:

I don’t believe that creating a visual depiction of sex is automatically anti-feminist. As always, context is the key.

I don’t believe the old Dworkinist line that sex is automatically anti-feminist because it’s a patriarchal construct. This line of thinking condemns any woman who enjoys heterosexual sex as some kind of traitor to the sisterhood and it’s this attitude that has resulted in millions of young women determinedly saying “I’m not a feminist…”

I also don’t accept the suggestion that all women who appear in porn (or prostitution for that matter) are victims who have been forced into it. Remember when feminism was about giving women a choice? About making people understand that women have their own thoughts and desires?

I do find it amusing (and frustrating) that so many people would think that feminist porn is an impossibility. Still, at least there’s a discussion about it, if nothing else.

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3 Replies to “Feminist Porn Awards Fallout”

  1. I think the discussion is good…if for nothing else there is an attempt at articulating “feminist porn” and perhaps others in the male-stream could consider that “sexual liberation” isn’t neutral, that porn, like any other cultural production reflects and produces particular values, that being porn-critical and porn-industry critical (as I am ) does not mean being “anti-porn.”

    Too often “pro-porn/pro-sex” and “anti-porn” are the only options available for feminists when we discuss porn–can’t we be pro-sex, ok with the idea of porn, yet critical of the conditions under which it’s made, the values it perpetuates, the way it shapes our desires and ideas around sex. I think being 100% porn is evil and patriarchal AND being porn is 100% ok, liberating, and unproblematic are BOTH overly simplistic and problematic positions.

    …and isn’t the FPA trying to give exposure to some options that don’t contribute to the male-stream porn mindset?

    I think the problem is that we don’t know enough about alternatives to bullshit girl/girl, facial, women never come, women are insatiable, the only sexy thing in sex are genitals…crap that’s out there. And when you consider the % of the market the decent stuff makes up…it can get pretty depressing. For instance, I want feminist porn to be revolutionary, and for me personally it is, but all to often in ends up being called “porn for women,” which assumes that it is a supplement to speak to women, as if the male-stream versions are a-ok for men and wholly without any political/social critique needed. Men get to keep their sexist, male-centered, versions of “sex” and “fantasy,” much of which IMO is problematic, and can feel ok about it since everything’s ok since there’s “porn for women”.

    I think the discussion at 101 wasn’t actually too bad, or at least, I’ve seen a bit more foreclosure in other discussions.

    Anyway, some random thought of mine.

  2. Lindabeth, thanks so much for your cool comment. I must admit, this post was thrown together quickly on a Sunday and now I feel I should say more to justify it in the light of your eminently sensible comments.

    I’m pretty much in agreement with a lot of what you say. Dichotomies such as pro-sex/anti-porn do make life difficult and I think it’s definitely a reasonable position to support the idea of porn while still rejecting the majority of what’s out there. That’s pretty much where I stand.

    I’ve never considered the moniker of “porn for women” as being a means to legitimise mainstream porn, but it’s an interesting argument. To me porn for women is about speaking to a female audience and depicting female sexual experience – something that doesn’t occur in the vast majority of porn. But I’ve never thought that my efforts to push women’s porn was saying that “men’s porn” was OK. To me it was more of a rejection of that kind of porn… and I’ve always assumed that there was a male audience out there looking for a better type of erotica as well. It’s just that I’m not in the business of offering that… yet.

  3. yeah, I don’t think “porn for women” has to be read that way necessarily…I just think it often does get read that way. I have heard people say to me, “why do you complain about porn when they make women’s porn now?”–not getting that the reason mainstream porn sucks isn’t only because it doesn’t represent women, but that it perpetuates a host of sexist attitudes and behaviors, not to mention a lot of racism and more.

    I wasn’t critiquing the use of the word, per se, more of lamenting how men seem to use it to relieve themselves of the need for self-reflexion and responsibility in their own porn usage. And I think we all should advocate embracing non sexist and non racist eroticism.

    It seems to have the same effect as how the way many seem feminism as simply advocating women’s needs, as if the way our social and political structures are is “just find” and that women’s voices just need to be “added.” And I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking myself.

    When I refer to it I tend to use “feminist” or “non-sexist” as descriptors. It’s really such a minor issue for the most part…I wasn’t meaning to critique your use of the term!

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