Almanac

Between the Sheets: Feminist porn and where to find it, a beginners guide

Whether Sunday was a day of wining and dining with a valentine, or if it had more of an alone-and-fine-with-it (or pretending to be fine with it) vibe, one thing unites us all on the day of love: searching for porn on the Internet.  

Although porn can be a treasure trove of inspiration and fantasy, it can also leave us feeling sort of guilty for getting off on something that is oftentimes hella degrading.

Some may point to PornHub (an extremely popular porn website) and their fairly recent “for women” category as the answer to this problem; however, those who have actually scrolled around on that category might tell a different story.

The fact that PornHub had to make a “for women” category at all illustrates the fact that most porn isn’t made for women. But what does a “for women” category really mean? Does it mean more focused on women’s pleasure? Does it mean less degrading and more sensual? And if it does mean those things, why does porn with those elements have to be “for women," or rather, why it that type of porn not for men?  

So if PornHub isn’t hitting the mark (aka the clitoris), what could they be doing differently? Not to answer a question with a question, but what if there was porn that still produced a feeling of spontaneity and mischief, but that also showed everyone—of all genders, sexual orientations, body types and backgrounds—genuinely enjoying themselves? What if porn scenes were more creative than a woman making high pitched baby-talk sounds while a dude thrusts away at her pelvis with his enormous dong? What would happen to porn if people with new perspectives got behind the camera and started calling the shots?

Lucky for us, there are feminist adult filmmakers like Erika Lust answering these questions. Feminist porn exists, and it is hot.

But wouldn’t “feminist porn” just be men going down on women while they scream “fuck the patriarchy!”? While I personally wouldn’t mind a film like that, that is not what Lust and other feminist adult filmmakers are producing. There are still blow jobs and dirty talk and kink and all the other delightfully dirty things we are used to seeing in porn, but those things are happening with consent and dignity and real passion.

As Lust puts it in her TEDx, “It’s Time for Porn to Change:” “The sex can stay dirty, but the values have to be clean.”

Lust also points out that, in many cases, “Porn is today’s sex education.” As we all know from attending a university with people from all different backgrounds, for many of us porn might have been the only form of sex education available.

Most people watch porn before they have sex, so if all they see are men with ginormous genitalia cumming all over women who are faking pleasure, what sort of mindset will they have going into their first sexual encounters? Probably not one of sex positivity. They probably won’t be thinking about how continuously asking for consent is sexy. They might expect women to react with elation while ribbons of ejaculate spew in their faces. They will also most likely get the idea that anything other than hetero, p-in-v sex, is a fetish and therefore not valid.

This is where feminist porn comes in to save the day! Erika Lust has a website—erikalust.com—with all of her full-length films, as well as a separate site called XConfessions.com where users anonymously submit their fantasies and then Lust chooses two each month to make into short erotic films. This is the ultimate way of producing content users actually want to see—major props, Erika.

To balance all my fangirling I should say that there is one little catch when it comes to viewing ethically made porn: the price tag. Although paying for porn might seem antiquated in this stream-for-free age, you get what you pay for.

There is something to be said about knowing that the performers in the videos are being fairly compensated, have the option of using condoms and other safety measures without being docked in pay and that they won’t be chewed up and spit out by the industry like those featured in the documentary “Hot Girls Wanted.”  

While I know budgets are tight as college students and the idea of paying for porn might have many crawling back to PornHub with heads hung low, there is more good news! First, there is a “free films” category on the XConfessions site with a couple titillating erotic shorts. Second, Erika Lust is a boss lady and I love everything she does, but there are other places to see free feminist porn on the Internet, many of which she provides links to and bios of on her site lustcinema.com.

A quick Google search provides plenty of listicles about where to find feminist porn, and the best way to go about finding what works is up to the individual. Wikipedia also has a pretty comprehensive page.

So when is something feminist porn and when is it not? This question is just as complicated as what is feminist and what is not, which is certainly not something I am going to try to answer, especially when it comes to feminism in sexuality. But, the one wonderful thing about all porn is that it is fantasy, meaning it is up to the viewer how to interpret what they are seeing. This means that even porn that is not feminist (or whatever other version of the word “feminist” one might prefer—empowering, sex-positive, ethical), can be made feminist when one uses their imagination to alter it.

Pausing a film or video that doesn’t have any displays of consent or affection and imagining those things happening can make watching porn all the hotter. On the flip side, if one likes the non-violent nature of soft-core or romantic porn but finds it a bit dull, pausing and imagining things getting a little more intense can heighten the experience and get the viewer more mentally engaged. Never forget, the brain is the most powerful sexual organ.

Find porn shot by someone with a new perspective, whether that be a woman, a queer person, a person of color or a man making intentionally feminist films. When the only porn we see is shot by a straight man directing a male porn star in the scene on what to do with (or to) a female porn star in a scene, all other audience’s sexualities become erased.

What’s the takeaway? There is feminist porn on the Internet, if one only knows where to look (aka google Erika Lust, or more generally “feminist porn”). Super high-quality and ethical feminist porn comes with a price, but the power to turn free porn into feminist porn lies in the imagination of the viewer. When something is or is not feminist or empowering is a personal distinction. Seek new perspectives and find new pleasures.

Wondering if the erotic Harry Potter tumblr page you follow counts as feminist porn? Well, that’s up to you, but you can still tell me about how hot it is at sex@dailycardinal.com.

Almanac is our home for satire, sex, creative writing and much more. Satirical articles are intended as such.

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