< begin snark> Yes folks, CNBC has discovered porn for women, an exciting “new” market for the porn industry. According to their article, Fifty Shades of Grey has seen women suddenly get into porn in record numbers. They’re backed up by Scott Taylor, founder of New Sensations, who has apparently made the discovery of the century by creating romance titles for women and couples in 2010.
“When it comes to something like the couples market, the revenue that can be generated with the right product is considerably more than traditional DVDs,” said Scott Taylor, president and founder of New Sensations. “I wish we had done this at a different time when there wasn’t so much piracy and there wasn’t the Internet.”
Ah yes, if only.
Excuse me while I try and choke down my sarcasm in order to keep blogging about this article. Because it’s kind of hard to listen to mainstream porn execs talking about the wonder of porn for women after decades of ignoring it and sidelining female customers. It’s only piracy and the internet that forced the big companies to seek new forms of revenue in the first place… and women became the new gold mine. This despite years of believing that “women don’t pay for porn.”
Women’s erotica isn’t new. Playgirl was launched in 1973 and Candida Royalle started making her films in 1984. Australian Women’s Forum launched in 1993. Purve was the first women’s porn site, launched in 1999.
I’ve been promoting porn for women online since 2000. For The Girls was launched in 2003 and it is still going strong, one of the largest sites for straight women on the internet.
“I don’t think this is something that happened overnight,” said Taylor. “It was dormant. No one spoke about it. And little by little it became ok.”
Um, no it wasn’t dormant and yes, people did speak about it. I’ve been blogging about it since 2004. Porn for women became OK over the last decade (or 4 decades) after I and a whole bunch of other women worked hard to create it, get it out there, make it acceptable and appealing and, ultimately, even “old hat” to a new generation of female porn surfers who reject the “porn for women” label as too boring or rigid or soft-focus or romantic.
CNBC’s article then goes on to define women’s porn as having a plot and being less gonzo or extreme. Essentially it’s saying women only like “romance porn” and – goodness knows, I’ve been through this discussion plenty of times before – lots of women don’t feel that way. It’s kind of unhelpful to have mainstream media depicting porn for women as this one thing, especially when it’s so diverse. And the article doesn’t bother to mention lesbian or queer porn.
There’s also this quote:
And studios seem to be taking pains to ensure that the women-friendly genre isn’t one that gets overrun with content, for fear of running off the customer.
“For the past two years, it has been very successful,” said Taylor. “I don’t flood it. I don’t try to do too many. You can cannibalize your own success.”
This is interesting, given the relative explosion in romance titles recently. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. It’s also a somewhat strange stance to take, especially since romance novels don’t suffer from the same hesitation.
OK… swallowing sarcasm now, calming down. What I do find good about this article is it talks to the owner of Sssh.com, a site which I’ve promoted ever since it started (it became a paysite about the same time as FTG, actually). Sssh has always had a “softer” focus than FTG and they’ve done well enough out of it. So at least the article acknowledges some of the old school women’s porn.
I’m also really surprised that owner Angie Rowntree is prepared to admit to visitor numbers; she says they’ve had 22,000 people “walk through the virtual doors” since they started keeping stats. I’m not sure if that means visitors or members. I can’t compare it to FTG because I must admit I don’t know what our numbers are. In any case, it’s a useful thing to know. Also, I’ve never heard of or met Angie Rowntree so maybe it’s time I looked her up.
So. Everything old is new again. I shouldn’t be so negative, really. The mainstream media seem to discover women’s porn every couple of years and the articles all seem to announce it as “new” and somewhat shocking. Women… looking at porn? Surely not!
I should also be grateful that mainstream porn is at least trying to cater to women, even if its within rather narrow definitions. Now if they could just stop churning out the same old porny sex scenes amid all the (relatively interesting) plot and romance and actually film something less boring I might be even happier.
< end snarky post >
Edit 17th Jan
NBC has another porn article Porn Industry Thinks Things Are Looking Up which includes this quote:
“It’s been picking up — mostly on the DVD side,” said Allison Vivas, president of Pink Visual. “It’s been picking up since Wicked picked up on this and started making productions that were more female friendly. … On the digital side, what we’re looking at is the tablet market. We don’t imagine a woman enjoying this sort of thing sitting in front of her computer screen in her home office.”
It’s the womenz! They are going to save the porn industry! So long as they’re not sitting in front of their computer at the time.
Of course, her point is that it’s much easier to use your vibrator and get off while lying in bed, so porn on tablets is a good idea. What I’m curious about there is the theory that guys don’t want porn on tablets… because… um… they’ll drop in the in the toilet while jerking off? I don’t know. It’s all very complicated. Can’t we all just have tablet porn?
Woops, got snarky again. I think it’s just jealousy. I do sometimes wish I was a major porn company with massive amounts of cash to make films. God, I would make such cool movies if I had the money. Imagine the kind of sales figures I could spruik! Imagine how much more female friendly the porn industry could be! Dammit, I could be single-handedly turn this whole thing around! *cue heroic music, soft focus close-up*
Ahem. Yeah. I’ll get back to making my low budget indie films now. By the way, please visit Bright Desire. It’s very female-friendly. Thank you.
EDIT 19th January
Slate now has a follow up article to CNBC’s piece called “What Is Porn For Women?“. I’ve written a separate post dealing with that article: “We’re Still Targeting Men”: Couples porn and the male perspective.