Blog: Porn for girls, what’s your position?

Fem-porn director Erika Lust


Now i’ve got your attention…

You may remember Anna Arrowsmith if you followed last year’s elections. She was the Liberal Democrat candidate for Gravesham. Nick Clegg supported her, but said her previous occupation was not his “cup of tea”. That’s because before that she was known as Anna Span, the UK’s first female porn director. She made independant porn for women. This year she has been nominated for a Feminist Porn Award, for Sex Experiments: Bisexual Scenes and Sex Interviews.

Recently, Jacqui Smith reopened the debate on the impact of the porn industry on society when she made “Porn Again”, a BBC Radio 5 documentary about pornography. Arguably her agenda is PR-led, given the embarrassing leak about her MP expenses and the dirty movie she claimed for in 2009. She also claimed to have been “shocked” by the amount of sexual content to be found on the internet. As a spokesperson for modern women, she doesn’t ring true for me.

Anna Arrowsmith says she used to be anti-porn until she realised her anger was jealousy. “I was envious of men having their sexuality catered for. I realised the best thing I could do was to work towards women learning their own sexual identity.”

In mainstream porn, the woman plays one part, an object. She is a hole to enter and a tool for male pleasure. Every mainstream hetro porn film culminates in the ‘glory shot’; the man ejaculating, usually on to a compliant woman. Her orgasm has no part to play, and even if she is supposed to have come, it’s hard to tell for all the moaning.

Whenever I’ve seen porn, I’ve found it impossible to move past critiquing the women, from bad hair extentions, hideous red talons or botched boobs jobs. Women want to see, like in the real thing, credible performances. And real bodies, that looks like ours, with women really enjoying themselves. Having seen pornography where the woman looks less than happy to be there, it’s disturbing.

So why does the porn industry refuse to budge? Research suggests that it may be bowing to change. Patrick Kwasniewski specialised in gender and queer studies at the University of Klagenfurt and is currently researching his thesis on feminist porn. He says: “The mainstream industry faces loss of profits through not changing their traditional ways of production or distribution and producing very repetitive films that have more and more troubles on the market”. Even men are getting bored of the same old positions, in the same old order. Art-core director Petra Joy says that people want more variety, more authenticity.

But the pornographers (middle-aged men nearly all) don’t feel the same. Fem-porn director Erika Lust says that the men whose porn she criticises says their movies are for everyone and she’s the “tight” one for offering an alternative.

If you asked your female friends, how many would admit to liking porn? Not many, probably. Some might be embarrassed to admit they do, or have strong feelings about the objectification of women. Some might not feel that strongly about it and think it’s generally quite funny to watch, with stale plots, and less than erotic. In women there is a potential audience being overlooked not because of our lack of interest, but because our interests are not being catered for.

Most of us don’t want to fight the women in the sex industry. But we do want to fight the industry that leaves female performers with nothing to show but their bodies. We want to opt-in.

Quotes are taken from The Guardian.