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Porn.

April 20, 2009

My circle of friends in high school collectively owned an adult film called “Slide Down my Shaft and Come on my Balls.” I think we liked it because it didn’t put on any airs.

Nonetheless, my relationship with porn is an antagonistic one. It’s an industry that’s terribly harmful to women–not just the women whose bodies are (ab)used to produce it, but the women who live in the social milieu it helps to create–and it’s not an industry that creates products for me, that are meant to benefit me, or even speak to me in any concrete way. Especially when female sexual enjoyment is often tossed by the way-side, the fact that depictions of sex are predominantly male-dominated and male-oriented is deeply problematic.

The fact is, many women like sex. And many more might like sex better if they felt socially sanctioned to tell their partners what they wanted. I think we all kind of like sex, or at least have a connection to it, something about it we might want to say. It’s something of a shared experience; regardless of whether you’re sexually active at the moment, or you never intend to have sex, it’s a socially salient entity.

So, perhaps it’s not entirely ridiculous that we want to see sex, especially sex that’s meant to be seen. And I think that visual representation of sex could be very important: it might take away the stigma of silence surrounding sex, it might give us a space to say to our partners, “This is what I’d like us to do,” and maybe most importantly, it might remind us that it is not something to get worked into such a tizzy about.

I think we want to see bodies. We want to see bodies doing things that our own bodies do, or things we would like them to do, or things we can appreciate that a body might do. It’s problematic that, when it comes to sex, these images are almost always exploitative, marginalizing, and outright harmful to many of us.

There are a couple of links I want to share which contain variants of porn. These links contain images of nude people, people having sex, and images representing sex. If any of these things might not be safe for you, avoid these links. I will attempt to represent them truthfully and cautiously below.

The first is Beautiful Agony, a gallery of O-faces, if you will, of videos of people in the throes of orgasm. Are sensual images like this–ostensibly a celebration of the personal pleasure of the orgasm–body-positive?

How about I Feel Myself, a video gallery of, you guessed it, people masturbating? Is this seeing someone find pleasure in their own body?

Or, by viewing these images at all, are we contributing to a culture that commodifies sex, makes it something we consume instead of experience? Is it okay as long as money isn’t attached to it? Is it okay as long as it’s an individual choosing to express themselves sexually?

What do you think? Can body-positive, woman-positive, sexual-experience-positive porn exist? What would it look like? Would anyone still like it?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Ashley permalink
    April 21, 2009 1:32 PM

    Having a very strained, antagonistic relationship with pornography is something that I can very much relate to. I’ve struggled with trying to figure out why certain things make my body respond while my mind finds what I’m seeing repulsive. I’ve reached a solid, okay place with this and a big part of it was discovering the wide array of pornography that could potentially appeal to me. A major one (and this may be an idiosyncratic weirdness) is vintage images, REAL vintage images. Despite people thinking that the current generation is the kinkiest, there are some very hardcore images out there. But it seems that however hardcore something may seem, it’s still a celebration of people, people actually enjoying sex instead of just going through the motions of it, and most importantly to me, celebrating the natural beauty of a sexual woman.

    Besides vintage pornography, I’ve managed to find various types of porn created by feminists and lesbians, real lesbians, queer and tranfolk and these can all be very appealing too.

    However despite discovering these many resources, I still find myself struggling with the urge to watch things that in no way to appeal to me. It’s an odd battle to fight but I’m winning and feel very good about it.

  2. April 21, 2009 5:22 PM

    What do you think? Can body-positive, woman-positive, sexual-experience-positive porn exist? What would it look like? Would anyone still like it?

    Yes, it does exist. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really exist where men are involved. Some women, and especially a whole bunch of queer women, have taken to making some (imo) fantastic and positive pornography. And they’re doing pretty well, so I’d guess that enough people like it.

    The Crash Pad Series (nsfw) is a genderqueer web and dvd venture. Here is a sfw review. It’s produced by Pink and White Productions, which “…creates adult entertainment that exposes the complexities of queer sexual desire. Taking inspiration from many different sources, Pink and White is dedicated to producing sexy and exciting images that reflect today’s blurred gender lines and fluid sexualities.”

    There’s also Good Dyke Porn (nsfw).

    An Australian company, Abby Winters, claims all-female crews. It’s mostly solo and lesbian erotica, and boasts actresses, many of them “amateur” (whatever that means these days) and with natural breasts. It’s one of the most popular adult websites around.

    • Jill permalink
      April 23, 2009 3:50 AM

      Thanks for the great links, Kate. In light of the female-centricness of these companies, though, do you think heterosexual (or even gay, for that matter) porn, which includes men as either actors or producers, is necessarily problematic from a feminist standpoint? Do you think there can be pro-woman heterosexual porn?

  3. Emily permalink
    April 21, 2009 6:07 PM

    Looks like a Happy Bodies field trip to Smitten Kitten is in order!

    We could even write a post about it!

    • kinkyturtle permalink
      April 22, 2009 12:32 AM

      Damn right you could! I ordered a flogger from Smitten Kitten online and they are very nice, helpful people. Blogging about Smitten Kitten could also be a really good opportunity to blog about body-safe sex toys and the danger of toxic toys and how important it is to be educated about it all.

      • kinkyturtle permalink
        April 22, 2009 12:35 AM

        And also, to clear up any confusion; I am the Ashley from previous posts. I’m just logged into my blog now. ^.^

  4. chingona permalink
    April 24, 2009 1:51 AM

    … do you think heterosexual (or even gay, for that matter) porn, which includes men as either actors or producers, is necessarily problematic from a feminist standpoint? Do you think there can be pro-woman heterosexual porn?

    I actually think it’s the opposite, that it’s problematic from a feminist perspective that almost all of the “feminist” porn doesn’t have much to do with men at all. The idea I’m about to put out here is not my idea, but I can’t remember where I read it, so I cannot credit it. Nonetheless, it really stuck with me. Why, when we talk about “feminist” porn, do we almost always end up with solo or lesbian porn or porn with women with different body types that is otherwise the same as standard porn? It’s as if women have so internalized the male gaze that we can only access pornography in the form of sexualized images of women, even if we’re straight. It’s not that I (I’m straight, if you can’t tell already from the gist of this comment) don’t find the female body erotic. I do. But why does so little feminist porn turn the gaze on men and present the male body as an object of desire? I’m guessing that’s part of what’s behind the trend (one I’m not part of but that I keep hearing about) of women watching gay male porn.

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