Women's pornography

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Women-oriented pornography is sometimes referred to as sex-positive pornography.[1] Women's porn is often produced by women and aimed specifically at the female market[2] – rejecting the view that men are turned on by porn, but women only by a box of chocolates.[3]

In the 1980s, Susie Bright pointed out that "[women's pornography] is a contradiction in terms for many people, so convinced are they that pornography represents the darker, gutter side of lust."[4]

Since that date, women have become accepted as a growing market when it comes to pornography.[5][6]

Producers and directors[edit]

Women's pornography is produced and directed by women and it is made for women.[7] One of the goals of women's pornography is to produce something that the customers want to see and will enjoy.[8] It is a common misconception for people to assume that women are not as easily aroused by sexually explicit images as men.[9] Women that produce porn believe that male-produced porn ignores the sexuality of women and objectifies them.[9] Anti-pornography feminists believe that the solution to this is to abolish pornography, but pro-pornography feminists think the solution is "better" porn that attends to women's sexuality.[9] Pornography produced by women is placed in the category "romance" by the Adult Video News awards.[10] This new category was added to the AVN awards in 2010.[10] The AVN awards are movie awards that recognize writers, directors, and producers for their achievements in the creation of American pornographic films.[11]

Erika Lust is a feminist porn director, producer, and screenplay writer.[8] She is also the founder of Erika Lust Films.[8] Lust got her start in directing and producing feminist adult films because she found mainstream porn "unrelatable, unimaginative, and unattractive", so she wanted to do something about it.[8] In 2005, Erika began to film her series called XConfessions.[10] Lust Productions subscribers submitted their fantasies to Erika and she picked two each month to film for her new series.[10] In everything Lust produces, she wants the viewer to see realistic scenarios, real characters, and real pleasure.[8] For Lust, an important component in feminist porn is consent and respect; making sure the actors want to participate and that they want to experience arousal.[8] Lust's films want to demonstrate real passion and connection between the actors.[7] Lust says, "We make love, not porn. And we do all this with a feminine, aesthetic and innovative approach."[7]

What woman's pornography looks like[edit]

In most porn, women are mistreated, humiliated and disrespected by men. Bryan J. Lowder states that most pornographic movies are filmed by men so they can portray themselves in the role.[12] Woman are appeared to be treated more like trophies instead of a subject of pleasure.[12] In women’s pornography, women are producing the porn and men and women are instead treated as equals.[12] By treating men and woman as equals it eliminates the disrespect towards women. Showing just a man’s penis and not his body is very objectifying to women.[13] Instead, woman’s pornography shows both the man and the woman striving for their own pleasure.[13] Woman are instead treated as real human beings.

Although sometimes we can’t see the behind the scenes of porn, the differences between the way that actors are treated in woman’s produced porn are very different. Instead of having to do something with just anyone that the director chooses, the director gives the actor the choice. The actor will write a list of people that they want to have sex with so that way the chemistry between the two actors is real.[13] Director Erika Lust says mainstream porn is “fake” and “crappy”, instead she wants to show “real sex”.[14] Not being slandered and disrespected by a man is what woman’s pornography is supposed to look like. Woman’s pornography is real connections and real orgasms between two people.[14]

Blurring erotica[edit]

Challenged on two fronts – by anti-pornography feminists and by the traditional male double-standard – sex-positive feminists would sometimes seek for tactical reasons to distinguish erotica from porn[15] – with the latter conventionally seen as both boring and disturbing.[16]

Accepting that Eros is not always pretty,[17] and may involve the forbidden or taboo[18] – as with women's pornography – forms part of the struggle with the good girl/bad girl or virgin-whore split in postmodern femininity.[19]

The main intent of female-made erotica is to gear sexual fantasy towards women.[20] Because of the feminist role in this, the erotica also tends to encompass various sexualities and identities such as bisexuals, transgender, and queer characters.[20] Specifically in the 1980s this started to make an appearance among erotic literature.[20] Some writers such as Patrick Califia have been known to write about gay men and women having sex in their novels.[20] This incorporates a whole new level of erotica by having gay men have sex with gay women.[20] The author argues that this is indeed still gay sex because both parties identify as gay.[20] BDSM behavior also gets brought up in erotic literature, with the intent to surface both knowledge of the topic as well as significant cultural references.[20] In Patrick Califia’s novel The Surprise Party the author sets up a story of a lesbian being arrested and sexually tortured by three police men that are also in fact gay.[20] The author brings light to the historical reality of police brutality towards gays, specifically butches, throughout history.[20] This combines both erotica and history.[20] The scene also includes a level of brutality mixed with sexual desire and fetishism.[20] This story line also perpetuates stereotypical male-female roles in the sense that the men play the cops inflicting power and control, while the female character is the submissive one being taken advantage of.[20] The reality is that the gay cops are supposed to be attacking the lesbian in a homophobic manner, when in reality those characters are gay as well.[20]

Male/female debate[edit]

Debate continues over the range and degree of differences between male and female pornography.[21]

Individualist feminism and sex-positive pornography[edit]

Individualist feminism considers that each woman is individually able to undertake the responsibility of making her own decisions, deciding her actions, and controlling her own life - "for example without trying to put some failures onto the account of gender differences."[22] As with liberal feminism, Individualist feminist focus on the ability for women to be metaphorically freed from the taboos and prejudices of sex within society, while also allowing women to become a sexually active element.[23] Typically, the male is considered the sexually active element in a sexual act, while the female is passive.[23] Individualist feminism as well as sex-positive feminism is attempting to change the view that the male is the active member of sex by creating an equality between the two so that male and female are both passive and active.[22]

An individualist feminist view upon pornography is that both male and female derive pleasure from consuming the pornography.[14] Women state that they "see their consumption of pornography as both a source of sexual pleasure and affirmation of their sexual identities, as well as an exercise of freedom of choice.[24]” Another belief that is shared within the Individualist feminist community is that pornography should be legalized. This thought is derived from reasoning that female pornographic actors would no longer be subject to the stigma placed upon them by society while allowing women to control and sensor themselves and their sexuality individually.[22] In correlation to making pornography legal, prostitution would become legal, supporting the idea that women could individually sensor and control their actions and sexuality.[22] Wendy McElroy, a prominent individualist feminist, shared her views of pornography by saying “Individual feminism insists on the principle of self-ownership: a woman's body, a woman's right. It insists that women be free to choose, regardless of the content of their choices."[25] McElroy's quote embodies the ideals behind women's pornography according to individualist feminism and leads to the thought process that a women can exploit her sexuality using her own discretion, through lesbianism, pornography, masturbation, or any consensual sexual act.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ XBIZ (2012-12-18). "Director's Chair: Erika Lust Promotes Sex-Positive Porn". XBIZ.com. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  2. ^ Catalina May. "Porn made for women, by women | Life and style | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  3. ^ Susie Bright, Totally Heterotica (1995) p. 384
  4. ^ Susie Bright, Totally Heterotica (1995) p. 3
  5. ^ "FoxSexpert: Porn Isn't Just for Men Anymore". Fox News. 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  6. ^ Sykes, Tom (2013-02-11). "Porn Isn’t Just For Men! Why Women Love Watching". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  7. ^ a b c May, Catalina. "Porn made for women, by women". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "4 Female Adult Film Producers Talk Porn for Women". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  9. ^ a b c Sun, Chyng; Bridges, Ana; Wosnitzer, Robert; Scharrer, Erica; Liberman, Rachael (2008-09-01). "A Comparison of Male and Female Directors in Popular Pornography: What Happens when Women are at the Helm?". Psychology of Women Quarterly 32 (3): 312–325. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2008.00439.x. ISSN 0361-6843. 
  10. ^ a b c d "What a girl wants: The rise of porn for women". s.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  11. ^ "AVN Award". 
  12. ^ a b c "What Does Feminist Porn Look Like?". Everyday Feminism. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  13. ^ a b c "Feminist Porn: Here's Why It's Incredible". Firstslice.com. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  14. ^ a b c "Porn director says her sex films are feminist because she treats women as people". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  15. ^ Jane Juffer, At Home with Porn (1998) p. 126
  16. ^ A. S. Byatt, Babel's Tower (1997) p. 588
  17. ^ Nancy Friday, Women on Top (1991) p. 7
  18. ^ Susie Bright, Totally Heterotica (1995) p. 382
  19. ^ Naomi Wolf, Promiscuities (1997) p. 5 and p. 131
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Ziv, Amalia (2014). "Girl meets boy: Cross-gender queer and the promise of pornography". Sexualities 17: 885–905. doi:10.1177/1363460714532937. 
  21. ^ Linda Williams, Hard core (1999) p. 320
  22. ^ a b c d e Schussler, Aura (March 2012). "The relation between feminism and pornography". Scientific Journal of Humanistic Studies. 
  23. ^ a b Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. 
  24. ^ Easton, Susan (1994). The problem of pornography: regulation and the right of free speech. Routledge London & New York. 
  25. ^ McElroy, Wendy (1995). XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography. St. Martin's Press. 

  • Ann Snitow, 'Mass Market Romance: Porn for Women is Different' (1983)
  • D. Cornell ed., Feminism and Pornography (OUP 2000)

External links[edit]