What Feminist Porn Is And Why You Should Watch It

By: Amie Harwick, M.A

FEMINISM

The term “feminist” has gotten a nasty reputation in the media and in our culture. When this word comes up, it often is used as an insult, it makes men cringe, and women, well, confused. The stereotypes of a feminist include being a man hater, not shaving one’s legs, and being against women being viewed in any sexual way. Well, I have news for you. Women, like men, are sexual creatures. Sex for women, and all people, is a natural and healthy part of being human. Women can choose not in engage in sexual behaviors, but they still have hormones and biological equipment to feel sexual.

Feminism has many shades.

There have been several waves of feminism, all that encase their own unique set of beliefs about the role of a woman’s sexuality and how that should be communicated to the world. Second wave feminists from the 1960’s to the 1980’s were fighting for equal rights, criticizing the patriarchy, and identifying the issues that came with women’s biological, cultural, and political roles. They typically viewed pornography as exploitative and objectifying to women. The third wave of feminism started in the 1990’s and held the sex positive belief that women could own their sexuality. They felt that beauty, sexuality, and brains could coexist and be a choice.

In Tristan Taormino‘s The Feminist Porn Book, she defines feminist porn as porn that:

[…] uses sexually explicit imagery to contest and complicate dominant representations of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, ability, age, body type, and other identity markers. It explores concepts of desire, agency, power, beauty, and other pleasure at their most confounding and difficult, including pleasure within and across inequality, in the face of injustice, and against the limits of gender heiracrcy and both heteronormativity and homonormativity. It seeks to unsettle conventional definitions of sex, and expand the language of sex as an erotic activity, an expression of identity, a power exchange, a cultural commodity, and even a new politics.

Well said.

Feminist porn isn’t just porn for women. Feminist porn is for both men and women. It doesn’t mean that it only depicts monogamous couples in soft lighting engaging in vanilla sexual practices. Feminist porn can be hot, especially because it seeks to show real women having real pleasure and real orgasms.

What does feminist porn look like and how does it differ from mainstream porn? Here is the criteria that most feminist porn follows:

What does feminist porn look like and how does it differ from mainstream porn? Here is the criteria that most feminist porn follows:

1. It shows sex from a neutral or a female perspective as well as a male perspective.

Most porn shows sex from the gaze or perspective of a man, making it easy for man to imagine himself in the particular sexual act. While this is arousing for a man, it makes it hard for women to identify with the scene and therefore, difficult to become aroused and interested. Feminist porn makes it easier for a women to imagine herself in the sexual situation.

2. It objectifies without being offensive or misogynistic.

In mainstream porn, women can be portrayed as sex objects that are to be used for a man’s pleasure. It depicts male-female sex as something that a man does to a women. While this may be one fantasy or sexual situation, it is limiting. Second wave feminists fought against sexual objectification, while third wave feminists understand that sometimes objectification can be by choice and become empowering. There also needs to be equal objectification of the male. Mainstream porn tends to objectify women and show them as objects of desire instead of subjects of pleasure. Men are also objectified in main stream porn when they are shown as simply a penis without a body. Feminist porn strives to show both genders as sexual subjects that are actively pursing their own pleasure.

3. It strives for real pleasure and real orgasms.

Mainstream porn is often criticized for setting unrealistic expectations for women in regards to sexuality. It also sets unrealistic expectations for men in terms of penis size, erection strength, orgasm intensity, and duration of sex acts. It tends to show women screaming during orgasm from vaginal penetration, or sometimes it does not show a woman coming to climax at all. This reinforces the cultural belief that the goal of sex is the male orgasm. Feminist porn strives to show women having orgasms to reinforce female pleasure. Feminist porn shows more common ways that women reach climax in order to validate women’s preferences and educate their partners on what works, rather than what just looks good.

4. Actors are treated with respect, paid fairly, given choice and ethical working conditions, and empowered in their work

Feminist porn directors, such as Tristan Taormino, and Nina Hartley, strive to create positive and healthy working conditions for the actors and provide them with agency to choose what they are engaging in. Many feminist directors encourage adult actors to make a list of the top actors that they want to have sex with, rather than in mainstream porn that sometimes respects the short list of the few actors that they refuse to have sex with. This encourages real attraction between the actors on set. Directors even collaborate with the actors in feminist porn to portray desires and fantasies that the actor has.

So Feminist Porn isn’t just for women, doesn’t mean that its all hugging and kissing, and isn’t usually vanilla. On the contrary, feminist porn strives to highlight marginalized sexual practices, empower people through sexual choice, and show real people with real orgasms, which may be kinkier and hotter than what you already have in your dvd player or cued up online.

For a great list of feminist porn titles, directors, and actors, check out the winners and nominees of the Feminist Porn Awards at www.feministpornawards.com.