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Davis, California

Monday, October 18, 2021

Column: Porn for women

Browsing through the Borders clearance bins, as I often do when bored and looking to waste money, I came across a book titled Porn For Women by Susan Anderson. Instantly I thought I had found a great bargain, but then I looked inside. This book wasn’t porn at all. All it had was pictures of muscular men doing housework and saying things like “want to snuggle?”

What in the hell kind of bullshit is this? This isn’t porn; it’s little inside jokes about how tough being a housewife is. Claiming itself as porn is insulting on so many levels. Not only does it put women in the age old homemaker position – completely ignoring that women are not all destined to be stay-at-home moms – but it also implies that women can not enjoy real pornography. Sorry Ms. Anderson, but my kind of porn has actual intercourse in it and would never involve a vacuum cleaner. Well, at least not in the conventional sense.

Let’s examine the majority of cinematic porn today. All porn, even “lesbian” porn, is really geared for straight men. Most women might say this is because pornography objectifies and demeans women. They create unrealistic portrayals of women being completely submissive to men who constantly demand sexual gratification.

You know what I say to that? You’re right. Women are either ashamed of and disgusted by porn, or have succumbed to being in it, giving pornography this strict sort of yes-or-no, one or the other standard. This has essentially allowed men to dominate the industry. Men are more able to market their tastes and their desires, completely ignoring a female’s sexual desires and preferences.

My problem with most pornographic films (from a ‘straight’-girl perspective) is that they always have the most unattractive men paired with these gorgeous, perfectly fit women. I guess it’s so guys can have an easier time relating to the sexual fantasy. Men are supposed to watch this and think, “He can have oral and anal sex with this hot chick on the first night they meet, maybe I can, too!”

It’s kind of like how Rocky inspired more men to swallow raw eggs and punch frozen meat carcasses in hopes of defeating their enemy, who is clearly more skilled. But I ask you, did Rocky end up winning? No, he did not. Guys, is it likely you’ll have anal sex with an attractive woman you just met in a dentist’s office? No, not at all.

There are women out there who are making efforts towards revolutionizing porn. They aim for a style of porn that is more natural and less one-sided. As Kaelyn, a guest blogger for the feminist blog Feministe, describes it, “feminist porn represents a diverse cross-section of people and is woman-friendly, queer-friendly, open to many interpretations of beauty and is, at best, political and woman-owned.” We can get on board with that, right ladies?

British feminist pornographer Anna Span discusses how her films feature “female point of view” shots. Shots that zoom in and focus on the man’s reactions as much as they do the woman’s. Her films highlight the female experience and display scenes that are more sensual for women to watch in an overall more realistic tone and setting. Before Span there were women like Candida Royalle, who also directed her pornographic films and even started her own production company.

Look at these women compared to women in Hollywood. Try to name five commercially successful female feature film directors. Now try doing it without using Sophia Coppola. I mean come on, even The Notebook was directed by a guy. You can’t tell me this is better than what these female pornographers got going on. These women seem to be more in charge than a lot of Hollywood actresses who are often argued to be just as objectified in their film roles.

If all us ladies came together (not literally) and just began embracing this alternative porn, then maybe one day feminist porn could be considered just plain old, run of the mill porn. If you’re interested in this topic, I encourage you to visit ScarlettLetters.com, a site that posts art, essays, prose and poetry, all from the perspective of women working in the sex industry. It’s run by author and activist, Heather Corinna. Of course, there are many more female, queer and transgender pornographers out there. Have a Google search party with yourself until you find the porn that’s right for you.

ALISON STEVESON also wants everyone to go see Studio 301’s production of Rumors by Neil Simon at the Wyatt Pavilion. Also, e-mail any article suggestions or comments to amstevenson@ucdavis.edu.

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