I am participating in Lady Porn Day, which is tomorrow the 22nd, as put together by the wonderful Rabbit Write. A few of us are starting today, a day early, so as to bring more awareness to it, and allow other to know about it and post tomorrow.
The prompt is to generally talk about porn from a woman’s perspective — what IS porn, what turns you on, what exactly is this new “women’s/couples friendly porn,” how has porn changed your life, what are your thoughts about porn, erotica, etc. And I’ve decided to write about ethical pornography, sometimes called feminist pornography.
Ethical pornography is one of the new waves of porn. It’s been happening for years with people like Carol Queen (and Bend Over Boyfriend) and those running Fatale Media, but also through queer venues like NoFauxxx and Pink and White/The Crash Pad Series, as well as through non-traditional porn channels like Tony Comstock’s films (sexumentaries if you will). It includes new releasing companies like Good Vibrations’ Good Releasing, which features HeartCore, ReelQueer and PleasureEd titles, and up and coming websites like GoodDykePorn.com or the Feminist Porn Network. Work create by those like Tristan Taormino, Toby Meyer-Hill, Shine Louise Houston, April Flores, Jackie Strano, Jamye Waxman, Madison Young, Bren Ryder, Courtney Trouble, Tina Horn, the Comstocks, and much more fall into this category, and I’d say it is an absolutely growing field.
What makes this porn ethical? Let’s see — the stars are chosen not because they fit some socially constructed mold of what we define beauty as, but because they love being sexual, are excited to perform in front of the camera, and so on. In ethical of pornography, you’ll see size diversity, people of color (not in a stereotypical “My Daughter is Fucking Blackzilla” type of role), people of various gender presentations, a variety of orientations, a spectrum of ages of 18 (not just the common 18-22 range), people with not traditionally define abilities, those that are often labeled “alternative” and much more. Ethical pornography looks at the fluidity of sexuality and identities, and realizes that all of them are hot and sexy, and therefore places diversity in their shoots.
How about the actually fucking — what makes that “ethical” or “feminist”? Well, the companies I’ve named above are very open minded in what sex means. This means that they don’t pay you based on who you are fucking, or what acts you choose to do, but they just pay you for performing. By doing this, it knocks down this hierarchy of solo being the least, girl/girl being a little bit more, girl/boy being the average, and anal getting the most money and praise, and it also stops the misogyny behind paying more for hetero scenes, and defining those in porn as boys and girls. Aside from paying all their stars equally, ethical porn companies also allow their performers a freedom to have the kind of sex that turns them on, allowing the stars to be authentic to their own pleasure. If they are doing an anal scene, it is because they like it, and it turns them on, not because a director told them to. Same goes for kissing — they’re kissing their scene partner because it is hot to them, not because they’re required to as part of a contract. This often leads to more chemistry between scene stars, more authentic orgasms, and in my mind, a hotter scene to watch because you know they are actually enjoying it. Those in ethical porn also get to pick their own names, choose whether or not they’d like to use barriers (although some companies strongly recommend that non-real life partners use barriers, and one or two require it), sometimes choose their outfits/locations, and much more.
Shooting ethical pornography is more of a group effort. Rather than trying to fit into a mold based on previous films/fitting into the perception of what men want in their porn, ethical pornographers work with their staff, with their stars, with everyone to try and put together an authentic piece of visual erotica that is true to all of those involved, whether everyone is treated equally (regardless of position on crew or their identities), and where people leave feeling comfortable and happy. I don’t like the term feminist pornography much (although that is the title many people prefer), because I have run into a lot of anti-porn, anti sex positive, anti-pleasure feminists. As a feminist-identified person, this really offends me that part of a community that I part of feels that what I do hurts others. More so, I don’t think you have to be identified as a feminist to make good, sex positive pornography — I simply think that you need to be ethical and stick to those values.
No, there is currently not a lot of money to be made in ethical pornography. No one is raking in six figure salaries, and most shooting sex positive porn aren’t getting paid much per scene. It’s still very independent and very underground, perhaps that is why it is still feasible to make it ethical. Often times when things get “big” or “main stream,” it is harder for those involved to have their voices heard.
My above list of ethical pornographers is not exhaustive, certainly. There are so many people working hard, either on their own or as part of other companies, to try and create sex positive spaces in porn. Some of us (myself included) don’t have our own companies, but rather pick and choose who we work for — I’ve directed content for Good Dyke Porn and Dark Horse Theaters, and am getting ready to work with Good Releasing on a Erotic Documentary about the intersections between sex and disability. I am certainly no full time pornographer, but working with ethical porn companies have given me the opportunity to bring my sex positive background and emphasis on inclusiveness to film. Everyday, more and more people are working to change the industry (for ex — Wicked requires all of their stars to wear condoms, which is the antithesis of what often happens in the more mainstream industry), both from inside mainstream and by creating new spaces.
As a “lady” identified person, this is what type of porn turns me on, this is what I want to watch. It doesn’t matter if it is kinky, or kisses and massages, or the genders of the performers. I get off knowing that the people on the screen got off filming, that they are paid equally no matter what they did, that they represent more of the diversity of sexuality. I don’t think there is such thing as porn for women, as women’s tastes are just as diverse as everyone else’s. Some enjoy watching kissing, while others find it boring and want more “hardcore” sex scenes. So to me, as a woman, I enjoy porn that follows my own ethics and beliefs. So in celebration of Lady Porn Day, I raise my class to all those who have created the world of ethical porn, work in it, and/or enjoy it, because that is how I believe porn should be.