Sex with Sophie - I am a Feminist Porn-User, Hear me Roar

Thursday, March 14, 2013


How many women feel safe to admit to watching porn? I find it rather funny that so many women of our generation condemn and refuse to discuss porn on the basis of everything about it being sexist, but won’t dare associate with the term feminist. Perhaps they have forgotten that they are the daughters and granddaughters of the vocal and proud second wave Anti-porn Feminist Movement of the early ‘80s, a period known throughout North America and Western Europe as the “Porn Wars” or “Sex Wars”. During this time, three opposing feminist views on porn came out of the woodwork in America . Robin Morgan made an extreme statement that became the mantra of America’s Women Against Pornography, “Porn is the theory, rape is the practice.” They advocated very strict legal penalties, while Anticensorship feminists reconciled anti-porn sentiments with every person’s rights and freedoms under the Constitution and made the argument often made today by liberal drug policy advocates, that disallowing the use of something so common will in no way deflate the industry and may in fact acerbate the problem due to the difficulties in monitoring an illegal market. A third group of feminists expressed a pro-porn view, emphasizing porn’s potential to subvert gender norms and embrace women’s sexuality, while acknowledging that this potential had not yet become realized.

Feminism, stripped of its radical stigma, is simply a belief in the equality of women in all spheres- social, political, and financial. Therefore, while many second wave feminists define radical feminism as strictly anti-porn, there is nothing inherently anti-porn about feminism. It is ‘mainstream’ porn’s promotion of wholly unrealistic physical ideals and sexual practices, and the extent of male domination onscreen, in production, and in distribution that women have a problem with whether they identify as feminist or not. In addition, it is the lack of focus on the sexual pleasure of the female that rubs us the wrong way. It infuriates me, and even as the open sexual book that I am, I have worried about discussing my use of porn for fear that people won’t be able to wrap their heads around the fact that yes, I am one if the majority of women who enjoy watching porn, and yes, like many women I am acutely aware of how much needs to change in order to make porn truly fair for both female porn stars and female porn viewers.

You may have heard of the highly publicized makelovenotporn.com. This is a neat venture launched by Cindy Gallop, a British entrepreneur residing in the States, which is truly very pro-porn but highlights the need for the distinction between the fantasy of porn and the reality of our sex lives with slides expressing “porn world” vs. “real world” views of the same scenario. For example, one slide points out that in porn all women enjoy having a giant penis shoved down their throat while their head is held down, to the point that they gag and struggle for air. In real life, very few women enjoy being held down, and even fewer enjoy having it done to them without being asked! There is now also makelovenotporn.tv with pro-female, pro-real body, pro-real sex amateur sex videos sent in by site members. Cindy is far from the only one advocating for and rewarding good porn. Just a hop, skip n’ a jump away in Toronto, Good for Her has hosted the Feminist Porn Awards for almost a decade, and Dan Savage hosts his annual Hump Festival also promoting porn that is more likely to appeal to women. Check out http://goodforher.com/fpa_2013 for information on this year’s Feminist Porn Awards events April 4th-6th.

As women, most of us have tried unrealistic sex positions seen in porn that just could not have panned out worse in reality, and with enough of these awkward moments and uncomfortable and/or unfair demands placed on us in bed as an obvious attempt on behalf of men to imitate porn, us ladies can’t help but feel inadequate for not being as nimble as the professionals on screen. In addition, many girls don’t realize that they are entitled to request reciprocation or even heaven forbid the GIFT of oral sex because they see so little of men paying special attention to women in porn. Most men seek out porn for the first time at around age 10, long before they’ve had a sexual encounter, and many women also view porn before they lose their virginity in an attempt to gain information on sex for pleasure and to try to prepare themselves for what’s to come, to fill the void that is left by our current level of sexual education.  If porn is one’s only education on the real ins and outs (pun intended) of flesh on flesh, how are we to believe that the ideals portrayed in these films, ideals so rarely contested as porn remains a taboo subject within the home, will not be internalized?

Few reliable statistics exist on who watches porn and what people prefer, but based on studies carried out in America, the UK, and France I have a few fun facts to share:

The majority of women watch porn, and at least half watch porn solo.

One in three visits to porn sites are by women, according to a 2007 American study by Nielsen.

Women tend to watch a far greater range of porn focusing on all genders, while men tend to opt for heterosexual porn or girl on girl. Interestingly, studies indicate that the majority of straight women opt for girl on girl porn over female to male porn, citing that while they may not feel the urge to put themselves in their shoes, the emphasis on mutual pleasure and female pleasure turns them on more than a spray-tanned blonde with size G implants, letting a dude come in her eyes while she makes noises at an inhuman pitch. Many women also choose gay male porn over heterosexual porn, again for the higher priority on real mutual pleasure. I’m all about gay male porn. Two cumshots for the price of one, and they look like they’re actually having fun! Solo male and solo female masturbation videos are also more popular with females than heterosexual intercourse.

I identify as a pro-porn feminist, and I hope you will too! I am encouraged that more and more people in and outside the industry are beginning to recognize the value in acknowledging women as a key demographic. After all, its all about the cha-ching right? I believe that if we can find the voice to let manufacturers know that we females, as a relatively untapped market, want to see porn with real women behind and in front of the camera having at least semi-realistic sex, porn will continue on the road to becoming more ethical and accessible. 

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