Can Porn Be Feminist?

Feminist PornMaura Kelly, reporting on the Feminist Porn awards, from the Daily Beast:

To kick off the annual Feminist Porn Awards on Wednesday night, adult filmmaker Buck Angel screened his documentary Sexing the Transman XXX to a cheering crowd at a University of Toronto lecture hall. In the movie, Angel talks to female-to-male transsexuals, like himself, about their sex-change experiences. Then he films them masturbating, with and without dildos.

Welcome to feminist pornography, a genre of sex films designed to appeal to people who feel put off by mainstream porn. In the world of feminist porn, women come in all shapes, sizes, and sexual orientations. The actresses don’t necessarily conform to the typical big-boobed, tiny-waisted ideal; some sport armpit hair. They look more like the average woman walking down the street or standing in line at Whole Foods than “porn stars.”

Angel’s documentary is one of 41 films from eight countries being celebrated at the annual awards event, which features several days of screenings and presentations, including an awards ceremony, held last night. Award categories include “Hottest Lesbian Feature Film,” “Sexiest Straight Movie,” and “Smutty Schoolteacher Award for Sex Education.”

Read More: Daily Beast

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  • Disturbed

    I wish I didn’t know this, but I think Buck Angel was a male-to-female transexual. 

    • Jin The Ninja

      and his website is hugely popular with hetero-identifying men. ‘just saying.’

    • Dax

      You are incorrect. Angel is a trans man, or female-to-male transsexual.

      • Disturbed

         Well I’ll be damned, you’re right. My mistake. The facial structure fooled me into believing he was a man first. That’s impressive.

  • Redacted

    Feminism is a myth.

    That is the only solution I can come up with. To suggest that Woman is somehow inferior to Man, or the other way around is preposterous.

    • Zapp

      Yeah, that’s what feminisms is trying to combat. Duh.

  • Antediluvian

    It’s laughable to see what feminism has become for young women in the 21st century.  This vulgar Destiny’s Child shake your booty, be proud and snap-yo-fingers-in-a-z-formation crap.  “I objectify myself voluntarily before you do, take that men”.  Yeah.. well.. you got us and the whole of patriarchy right there, putting yourselves in chains before we did..  
    Here I was thinking feminism was a social liberation movement, but apparantly today it’s, like anarchism f.e., all about some sort of vaguely defined “empowered lifestyle”.  Episodic rebellion and the satisfaction of their ‘desiring machines’ is all that matters to this bullshit lifestyle ‘left’ as a renowned, mind you leftist scholar once said.

    • Apathesis

      If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

      I blame it on daddy issues and magazines like Cosmo, that basically tell women they are only useful for blowjobs and their looks.

      • Dlny911

        that is ALL that is telling women that? I disagree

        • Apathesis

           No, that isn’t all of it.  MTV, movies, porn, advertising, etc.  I just blame Cosmo because it is a trash rag for that is a how-to guide for skanks and way too many females (especially young teens) read that crap.

    • Jin The Ninja

       most of the points you make are not wrong, and i agree with some of the sentiment. but i think there is a difference between being sex-positive AND being objectified. one of the best things to come out of sex-positive feminism is the inclusion of trans and queer issues into the approach. feminism is so multi layered, with so many competing and evolving perspectives.  i agree that raunch culture is pretty de humanising and not feminist in the true sense. i think an issue like porn, that has polarised certain groups of feminists- is a very interesting issue, because culture is not hermetically sealed- nothing is perfect, innocent or unknowing. There are multiple aspects to take into account – one of which is how feminists understand porn/film production which is the most problematic aspect of porn (in context to a feminist critique)- so the issue becomes IF porn is produced, subversively, against the conventions of medium and genre that make it inherently objectifying AND contains themes and tones of feminism- can it then be ‘feminist’ ? i would argue it CAN be in the right circumstances; however that kind of porn is NOT the porn of mainstream viewership, and in a way never can be- it can however be a niche genre or expression within the medium- which in way subverts the mainstream industry.

      as a side note, the crimethinc anarchists you are referring to, are NOT examples of all anarchists, nor is lifestyle anarchism widely promoted in the ‘canon’ of anarchist literature past to present- and when it is- it leans towards the individualist elements, while important, are not the elements of resistance that are much more important in today’s world of state/capital oppression.

      • Antediluvian

        I agree with the point you’re making here.  Feminism is indeed as multilayered as any social movement out there, and for the better, a plurality of ideas is what I prefer, it serves for a constant rethinking and sharpening of perspectives in general.  

        I prefer a sexually permissive culture above a sexually restrictive culture.  The latter is perfectly exemplified in 19th century Victorian contraptions that intend to hurt swelling penises in order to avoid onanism, or even arousal for that manner, but what has been shown in studies on that era is that such a culture is the actual perpetrator of perversity, not the ones who are more liberal in their attitude towards sexuality.  But the thing that bugs me is when I see things like this : “Some women are turned on by being submissive,” Jansen explains. “We need to respect that their choice for themselves is not degrading or sexist.”  But what Jansen forgets is that this abundance of choice is only there for the privileged.  The women who have this fetish are privileged enough to have it and can escape from that submissiveness outside of the bedroom ( or the studio in this example ).  But a lot of women can’t, and they are subject to this involuntarily.  So perpetrating a certain type of male-female relationship in a society like ours is dangerous and reckless.  I don’t believe we can “live feminism”, as much as we can “live anarchism”, within the confines of capitalism.  So I’m very aware of the fact that anarchism is not equatable with what some faux lifestylists make of it.

        Sex is ubiquitous in Western society, but it is either a strategy to associate a certain commodity with arousal, or it belongs to the shady corners of private life.  Pornography, one mouse-click away, is still a scurrilous ghetto of the wretched and far from anything an aspiring artist would want to meddle with.  That says something about how sex is dealt with and will remain to be dealt with in a capital-oriented society.

        • Jin The Ninja

          excellent, excellent reply. i also found the Jansen quote deeply problematic. and i completely agree with you about feminist/anarchist tendencies in a capitalist world- difficult at best to live fully entrenched in either one. i like to think the two share such overlapping concerns (sex race and class?) that an anarchist world would be an equally feminist one.

          I do agree with you also, in your previous statement about how empowered sexuality (quote unquote) derived from mainstream culture is by NO means feminism, as a reactionary or revolutionary social critique. i’ve always felt that readily accessible form of pop culture ‘feminism’ to be highly problematic and troubling.

  • Monkey See Monkey Do

    The porn industry is pretty filthy. Nevertheless porn can be feminist. Sex and sexuality can be celebrated but it wont be if that prude Gail Dines has her way.

    • Apathesis

       The shit today is gross, abusive, and poorly directed.  Everyone is trying to be the next Max Hardcore or Khan Tusion.  Look at Facial Abuse.  Those guys should be in jail.

      Yet, women allow themselves to be treated this way and/or probably don’t even read the contracts…

      • Monkey See Monkey Do

        The gonzo shit is gross, and i’m not sure where that leaves BDSM fantasy (thats a grey area).
        X art seems feminist in the way it protrays sex respectfully and the sex looks pleasurable for the actors.

        • Apathesis

          Yeah, gonzo is obnoxiously vulgar, and it’s everywhere.  X-art and MetArt are great, as are older films from the ’70s and ’80s.  It seems the Europeans still have a taste for porn with production values and class, even if some folks from the Eastern Bloc (and here in the USA) make really brutal “porn” that looks criminally suspect.  I guess those contracts the women sign protect the predators from legal action.  Disgusting…

  • Stalker

    “In the world of feminist porn, women come in all shapes, sizes, and sexual orientations.” Um, pretty sure that women come in any number of sexual orientation in normal porn, too.

    “Yeah, she’s being triple-penetrated, but it’s empowering that she doesn’t conform to the male ideal of beauty.”

    • Jin The Ninja

      why did you quote a non-existent passage?

      and feminism is multi-layered, so it’s not just about non conformity to the gender or beauty standards of mainstream society. i don’t think all ‘feminist porn’ is feminist, but i do think there can be and is feminist porn.

  • http://twitter.com/mattstaggs Matt Staggs

    It’ll be interesting to see how this conversation goes.

    • Jin The Ninja

       that was my thought(s).

  • DeepCough

    Feminist porn = lesbian strap-on action.

    • Jin The Ninja

      lol. i can sincerely appreciate that you’re being cheeky. and in reply i would have thought, ‘femdom’ or ‘pegging’ to be a bit more genre appropriate.

      • DeepCough

        Don’t you see–lesbian strap-on action is the ultimate act of female liberation, as women can completely do away with the man in order to achieve orgasm by going down on each other and using a rubbery proxy–strap-on dildo, that is–to engage in penetration, and this very well mocks the genitalia of the man in the process.

        • Jin The Ninja

          lol, you’ve really thought about this. well i will say your reasoning is pretty sound. but i’d worry that hetero-identifying women would not be able to achieve ‘liberation’ in that scenario.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    I guess it could be, under the right conditions.

    But those conditions are never going to remain stable for long.  To the extent that sexuality is about human relationships it will also be about power, and any entropic state of power relationships is ultimately going to prove harmful for everyone.

    For this reason, I don’t see pornography as being either inherently feminist or mysogynist, but both.

    I guess I could see the lack of pornography as anti-feminist in an absolute sense, though, because it unnaturally limits the range of expression for female sexuality.

    • Jin The Ninja

      you make a great point here about sexuality and the dimensions of power. selma james said, ‘in a way marriage is much like the relationship between hooker and client.’ there is certainly a dynamic of power that accompanies relationships and sex that can’t be ignored- and that dynamic encompasses financial, emotional and psychological aspects. i think radical feminism offers an interesting critique of this- asserting that true feminism (that is true egalitarianism) cannot exist within the confines of a capitalist system.

      • Liam_McGonagle

        Very true.  Though as I become older, I wonder if true egalitarianism is best understood as a static state or a dynamic process.

        • Monkey See Monkey Do

          dynamic process

          • Liam_McGonagle

            Likely.  Of course that implies a level of chaos a lot of people are going to have difficulty in accepting.

            That’s why I’m experimenting with different non-lethal memes.  Even if people don’t like the situation in which they find themselves at any given moment, they should have confidence that a less hostile one will pop up shortly.

            The idea of winning or losing is okay.  I just have a hard time accepting the notion of absolute winners or losers.

  • Okarin

    depends which actor/actress is holding the whip

  • http://www.facebook.com/martyrdomforsale Matthew Pickett

     The websters definition of “Feminist” is” advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men”  That being said, the porn industry is by far NOT feminist.  The women do not have equal rights to the men, they have superior rights to the men.  Women get paid on an ala carte basis, depending on what, who and where they will “do it”.  Dudes get paid a flat fee most times to show up and get hard and shoot when/where they’re told.  Women also get far more screen time than the men usually(except the guys dick).  So modern heterosexual pornography as an industry is by far female-centric.  That does not equate to equality but superiority.  However, that being said, the people making the most money in this industry as a whole by far are the men producing the stuff.  As they should.  Producers foot the money to make the stuff and there are few female producers/directors.  That being said, as far as business goes there is equality between men and women there, women just choose to take that career route less often.  In that case it would be feminist.  If one talks about content of porn, well…this is as varied as books or magazines.  Can ALL books as a medium be considered feminist?  What about movies?  Mind you, I’m speaking of content only.  This argument could logically be put to any other business or topic.  When it comes down to it, feminism means different things to different people.  To some it means equality.  To some it means superiority.  To others(myself included) it usually means “Get away from that chick with the pit hair and the girlfriend at starbucks before you get drawn into a conversation and sued for harassment.”  But hey, that’s just a the opinion of a 30 year old male who believes in the fundaments of true feminism, but still wants a woman who can shave her legs, share the kitchen and likes to be ontop sometimes..

  • Guest

    Nothing says “feminist porn” like incorporating a buttplug in the logo.

    • Jin The Ninja

      ‘good for her’  is a women and trans -positive sex store here in the GTA. they sponsored the awards, so why not?

      • eyeoftheaxis

        Indy burlesque shows are a fun alternative. Popular with LGBT , artists, and
        lifestyle couples. +1 for going outside the system IMO. Obviously if the
        morality police raid it won’t be the high $ strip club with it’s VIP room that
        sees the paddy wagon. It’ll be the tame by comparison Indy shows that don’t give
        a cut to the criminal / political syndicate. The few pro entertainers we know (
        as playmate/friends not as customers ) have made a ton of $ and use it for coke,
        breast implant surgery, and luxury vehicles. They seem very empowered & I
        wouldn’t try to tell them they are not …( coke ). They enjoy showing off, and
        often just for laughs use sexy behavior to frustrate passing strangers (men) .
        The burlesque show girls seem more the kind to ride a bike and use the $ for
        rent, a couple beers, text books, student loans, medical bills… the pro’s are
        fun to hang out with, not bad people, but they seem a shallow by comparison.

        • Jin The Ninja

          i know a couple alt. girls whom have done indie burlesque. i am just vehemently opposed to anything to do with musicals (and although burlesque is totally different- for some reason i have difficulty..), and like as you say, very ‘hipstery’- riding an oldschool bike, vintage clothes, beer and concerts.  i have also known a few exotic dancers that really did put themselves through school. they were very matter of fact about it, of course they were also very ‘blinged’ out, best clothes, sick car…  dont get me wrong i don’t begrudge them in any way, the world can just be such a surreal place.

  • Viva Lux

    I find the idea of an average person shopping at whole foods amusing. 

  • guest

    What’s wrong with porn the way it is?   If feminism is about having more women in charge, then isn’t dominatrix porn already there for that purpose?  Sure, the woman is objectifying herself in the outfits, but really?  If anything it would be nice to see more porn directed at straight women, because I can’t ever find anything.  Maybe I’m just weird.  

    • Jin The Ninja

       maybe read the article.

  • tooCents

    Can a feminist suck a dick and record it? 

  • Guest

    Sorry man, but this just seems like bullshit. I thought the title ‘feminist porn’ would be pretty interesting to read but the comments have more salt than the article itself. Some kind of joke I’m too tobacco-withdrawn to get?

  • justagirl

    got a puddy tatt for my bday.  <3

    • justagirl

      he was like “do you want me to num it for you?”  lol.

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