Feminist Porn for a Male Audience

They may not be the Oscars or the Grammys, but two weeks ago a different kind of awards ceremony took place: the Feminist Porn Awards. The show, now in its sixth year of honoring work that challenges the mainstream porn industry, was hosted April 13 to 15 in Toronto by Good for Her, a sex shop in the city that specializes in women’s pleasure.

We know what you’re thinking. Feminist porn, really? In the recent past porn has developed a long list of connotations, including “misogynistic” and “anti-woman,” and the entire industry has been painted with those descriptors. But not all of it fits the labels.

About 450 people attended the event, which included a screening of the nominated films the night before. That number has climbed each year since 2006, when the first ceremony was coordinated by Good for Her and the store’s former manager, Chanelle Gallant. Now, Alison Lee, a writer and manager of Good for Her, heads up the event. Lee said:

A lot of people don’t understand that they have a choice when it comes to porn. They think that the mainstream, big porn machine is all that exists, and there was nobody in the mainstream porn industry who was recognizing that not all porn was the same. Showing the world that there’s a lot of different porn out there that can actually be really interesting and empowering is an important goal of the awards.

For a porn film or website to be considered “feminist,” Good for Her recognizes three important criteria, at least one of which the publication must meet: a woman must have been involved in the production, writing, or direction of the work; or the work must convey genuine female pleasure; or the piece must expand the boundaries of sexual representation and challenge mainstream porn stereotypes.

Despite the emphasis on women, Lee said that the audience for this different, more progressive kind of pornography is not limited to females:

Feminist porn is not necessarily directed by women or only aimed at women. But what feminist porn does do is take women into account as viewers. So even if they’re not the sole audience, I think that one of the things that is considered is whether it’s something they think that women might enjoy.

In future years of the Feminist Porn Awards, Lee said that she’d like to reach out more to men and straight porn filmmakers. She said men play an important role as members of the feminist porn audience.

The truth is that statistics about porn are terribly unreliable, and they tend to rely on self-reporting, and people don’t often want to talk about what kinds of porn they consume. But anecdotally, in our store, we do see a lot of men looking for something different from mainstream porn—they’re not interested in the “Pole A into Slot B” kind of porn. They’re looking for something with a little bit of heart. The truth is that the audience is really diverse.

… I don’t think for sure that feminist porn has to be focused primarily or only on women. … It’s important to show that there are so many different ways to express sexuality.

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Adam Polaski

Adam Polaski is a writer, designer and organizer for Freedom to Marry, where he works with an amazing team to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. He also enjoys the New York Public Library, love stories overall, and the perpetual quest to go vegetarian. Follow him at @AdamPolaski

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    So, since it’s feminist porn my wife won’t mind if she finds it on my laptop? Can I get a money-back guarantee on that? : – )

    • I think you are missing the point. Feminist porn is not about hiding it from your wife, but rather sharing it with her.

      • ..aaaand this is exactly why there is no such thing as feminist porn. Thank you, anonymous, for making the point. Robert, there is a whole world full of anonymouses out there, leering away, however correct you may think you’re being.

        • There’s absolutely such a thing as feminist porn. The belief that women cannot be viewed as strong, diverse, fluid, and versatile individuals while maintaining their own positive and comfortable level of sexuality and pleasure is exactly the type of faux-feminism the project aims to address.

  2. SecondBeach says:

    YES! I love the emerging queer/feminist porn community. It’s also some of the only porn I’ve ever seen where people a) look like actual people, b) seem to not mind being in the same room with each other, and c) can be fat/trans/racial minority/disabled and be seen as a whole sexual being, not just have that one aspect of them fetishized.

    Fighting the existence of porn is silly, stupid and a doomed battle from the beginning that second-wave feminists were silly to start. Don’t fight porn, fix porn. And that’s what these folks are doing. And it’s hot.

  3. That Girl says:

    This is an amazing idea. I watch porn, I have friends(male and female) who watch porn, and we all have a very similar opinion, most porn is hard to watch and actually enjoy. This is mainly because in straight pornography the woman is almost brutally disrespected and treated as something to put your dick in. Not all porn is like this and I am not speaking of a certain genre of porn. I only have a problem with porn that does this because pornography has an incredibly heavy influence on naieve younger men and boys and some of them learn how to please women and themselves from what they watch, and it ends up hurting the women they are with because in porn everything a man does to the woman is potrayed as intensly pleasurable.
    Luckily many men dont actually use porn as a learning experience, but some do and that is the problem how can women be respected if pornography shows them as nothing but an item for men to use for pleasure. How can men respect eachother when they are shown as a mindless sex machine?
    Porn should give even just a nuance of respect for both parties.

    Once again I am not speaking for all women or men, and not all porn is demeaning.
    This is just my own opinion on the topic and I am giving an example of a select form of pornography.

    • Trouble is, most boys are learning off men and watching the women hating variety as it props up their ego to make them feel they are racially superior to females. They get off on the violence towards females in the same way that some guys get off on hitting black men and others gay guys. Its all the same hatred really, a hatred of equality and meritocracy. 1 in 3 girls has experienced sexist violence in school, including my 6 year old daughter who had 4 months of bullying including a sexual assault from 6 male classmates whilst the teachers and headmaster excused the behaviour as play. Calling a six year old girl a bitch and punching her in the face play? Male culture needs a whole lot of fixing as it seems women are the new n+ggers in town.

    • No I’m not!

  4. There are a few feminist porn companies for the male gaze, sometimes they make it on the radar of the porn festivals/awards, sometimes they don’t.

    There is Trannywood Pictures, which is a gay/ftm safe sex porn company and Dolores Park Studios, a queer all genders line.

    Trannywood was awarded a FPA statue 2 years ago for our 2nd dvd, Couch Surfers: Trans Men in Action : )

  5. Very interesting post, Adam!

  6. When this says that a film must convey genuine female pleasure, does that necessarily preclude rape or aggression/force/etc.? I know there’s a certain fetish of, you know, dominating a woman throughout sex–from penetration to the end–and having her submit to it and even enjoy it. (I mean, even real rapists often force their victims to say they enjoyed the rape.) Is that kind of message also banned from feminist porn?

  7. billybobthornton says:

    Is it too much to ask that we stop producing images of people having sex – which is private – they never look at the camera in a welcoming way, do they?

  8. I’m a straight male, and I’d be glad for someone to point me toward an online review of porn that does not demean women.

  9. My wife and I watch some porn movies and enjoy them very much. The very best porn is when I am personally watching my dear sweet wife being a porn star with our male friends. She loves it and I encourage it. She is a awesome porn star but NO vidieo taken for privacy reasons Never know where it could end up.

    Richard

  10. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Very cool idea! A very small amount of the amature stuff is like this. Much of it is fake, or abusive (husband turns wife out is a common subtheme) though. Also, early 80s porn is more caring and sensual (generally,) although there are still many abusive moments.

  11. Uncle Woofie says:

    I’m a “newbie” here…but I jus’ COULDN’T resist this….LOL

    This may very well be the “cool idea” that everyone seems to be fawning over, but since I can’t find ANY info on what actually WON, as in no film titles (understand, I’m not soliciting for freebie porn here) or even the most brief of synopses of any of the winners other than a collection of photos from the award ceremony, I’m left with as little information on how wonderful it is.

    This is right up there with the almost “toss-away” line that is also a hyperlink in the James Deen interview that references Nielsen/Net results:

    “In the first three months of 2007, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, approximately one in three visitors to adult entertainment Web sites was female; during the same period, nearly 13 million American women were checking out porn online at least once each month.”

    Others are saying the same thing (in so many words) that I am: “How the hell does the Nielsen/Net organization actually KNOW that for SURE?”

  12. I’m an adult male, that like many males, enjoys the sight of a beautiful women. I’m also not very sexually active, for various reasons, so i do tend to watch pornography fairly often. A little confession, i almost did not even put my name on this, its kind of an embarrassing subject, but i know it should not be. Sex and all things related is the most natural thing in the world.

    I have a lot of issues with watching porn. Its not a chronic thing for me, i don’t even owe a porno, and have had some very strange room mates to see what an unhealthy obsession it. But still, a lot of it bothers me. A large part of it is the women, and i usually say womben but many of these are not that. These individuals who have large fake breasts, fake lips, want a cum load on their face, and often for some fucked up reason are in their 30s but dressed like a school girl are quite vile. So is the treatment of many of them. Many times i have just stopped watching, and tend to hunt down amateur porn.

    Partially my reason for posting this is a confession. The other part is i really want to know where to go for free porn that is not going to make me feel like a bad person. Im tired of feeling guilty, and supporting something i feel so strongly against. I’m not ashamed to, like many men, enjoy watching a woman having sex. I am ashamed to watch women being called whore and bitch and slut while being gangbanged, but if the guy has three women having sex with him the terms suddenly change. So where can i go for a more sex positive attitude towards these things? Are their more men who feel the same way?

    Thanks for reading this if you did, can’t even believe i’m about to post it, but here goes…

  13. jessybell says:

    As a woman even feminist porn leaves me cold. Why? Because it is full of women! And I’m not a lesbian. Where are the images of hot men? Most of my female friends are seriously frustrated. They can only fantasise about movie or TV actors because they never get to see hot guys having het sex. The guys in mainstream porn are pretty hideous and the action is often brutal towards women anyway and feminist porn still seems totally obsessed with womens bodies. Someone needs to make porn that is not abusive and with really hot men in it and they’d be really rich.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Where is the hetero porn with hot men? I am a feminist, but I am not a lesbian and I do not want to see women having sex – unless it’s with a hot dude!! Why is so hard to find something that fits this criteria???!!

      • Agreed. Where are the hot men?! THAT would be feminist porn…..but in fact porn ‘aimed at the feminist audience’ is no different to mainstream porn. It just features more “normal” looking women. Go on to any ‘porn for women’ site and all you see are women as objects in a softer light. It’s still for a male audience. Funny fact but hetro women actually fancy, shock horror, MEN!! When we have sites dedicated to hot men, aimed at women, then we can discuss feminist porn! AND just because a woman is producing porn doesn’t mean sh*t……anyone who’s ever seen porn knows that many of the women treat themselves and other women as badly as the guys do. Being a woman DOES NOT mean being feminist or even liking women. There are plenty of misogynist women in the world……

        • sterling88 says:

          I assume the lack of hot guys in porn may have something to do with the fact that most guys don’t exactly “measure up” to the standard of the industry if ya catch my drift. That, and if what I heard/read to be true, they don’t get paid as much and often have difficulty maintaining erectiond and ejaculating on cue.

          That may be why. Otherwise I’d imagine guys would fight for the chance to be paid to have sex with attractive women.

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      “The guys in mainstream porn are pretty hideous”

      Frankly so are the women, I have no idea how they make any money at all.

  14. Intriguing idea. Anybody here know of sites with non-sexist online porn with straight couples? Amateur would be best. Mainly trying to get away from the silly conventions of mainstream porn, such as the one that says the culmination of every sex act is always the guy ejaculating onto the gal.

    (Am I supposed to want to do that? Is my gf supposed to want me to do that? Geez, we must be so vanilla….)

    Please reply; many thanks!

  15. Intensitea says:

    :D

  16. Yeah we dont need to all assume that every blonde female loves a giant hard one smashed into her. Realistic porn perhaps. But then we’d also love to see magazines that arent ridiculously photoshopped. The power is in the hands of the people & we seem to do nothing.

  17. Feminist porn is good because it shows how it can be possible for porn to be tastefully done so that porn stars won’t be viewed as sex slaves or addicts.

  18. richard hodge says:

    It would be good if there was porn which depicted men having a good time in a passive way, I mean where are the images of men having their ears nibbled and moaning in pleasure. Where foreplay is depicted it seems solely concentrated on women. And why do the men never have screaming orgasms?

  19. blackbird63 says:

    I think you guys err on the side of too much caution–real feminist porn ids all about fisting and toilet slavery, or mother daughter dynamics. At least, for me and my partners,that is the case.

    All of the overly “sensitive man” skits are comical-real women (and I can only speak for myself) are deeper, and wider than this soft core stuff;-)
    blackbird63

  20. Women having actual orgasms, not those embarrassingly awful fauxgams. It’s really, really easy to get a woman to orgasm. Friction on clitoris. Mechanical. Just like with men, which is not a surprise seeing we are the same species.

    So women having actual orgasms with attractive men and not being continually degraded and used. Not that tough. Get it sorted.

Trackbacks

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