I was exposed to porn at a young age like many people, and my first reaction to it was disappointment. When I was older, I decided to give it another try, but the same woman in heels was still giving a blowjob to a police officer to get rid of a fine.
When I was studying Political Science and Gender Studies at the University of Lund in Sweden, I read Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the Frenzy of the Visible, by Linda Williams, which changed my view on a lot of things. It was the first book to look at pornography as a genre with a history; as a specific cinematic trend and as part of a contemporary discourse on sexuality.
Besides being a theoretical work from an academic perspective, the book made me realise that porn was not "only porn". It was then that I had my lightbulb moment!
I realised that mainstream porn is not something that reflects any truths about sex – but it makes a statement, an idea, it expresses ideologies and values, and also opinions about sex and gender.
The more I learned about the discourse of pornography, the more I wanted to try to create something entirely different in the genre. Something that I would like myself and that I thought other women and men looking for something more fresh, sensual and ethical would also like. That's how it all began!
The question for me would be, "What is mainstream pornography's problem with women?!" I don't have a problem with mainstream porn itself, I think it’s dull, and it doesn't contribute to sex-positivism and equality. At least the portrayal of women could be far less toxic.
I do have a big problem, though, with the signals some mainstream porn scenes send out with their stories. They don't allow consent to come through. They show scenes with coercion, and some are mainly portraying sexual aggression.
They promote scenes to "destroy" a teen, to fuck a teen. The actress is above the legal age of consent, yes, but they deliberately make them look far younger, and that should be a huge problem for EVERYONE.
I mean, is it necessary to portray women like sexual objects that don’t have any real pleasure and real desires? Mainstream porn shows that women’s sexuality exists for the benefit of men. The industry's regurgitated misogynistic and sexist values impact us negatively, portraying women only as pleasure-objects without any sexual agency.
In the 1980’s many feminists took a clear stand against pornography. American writer Andrea Dworkin, for example, stated: “Pornography is the theory; rape is the practice.” Of course, many things have changed over the past few decades, but the question remains: Can pornography be feminist – and what does feminist porn movie look like?
Of course. I am a woman. I am a feminist woman, and I have been bringing my perspective to adult cinema for almost fifteen years. That is the way I fight - against the reality that is not only mainstream pornography but also mainstream media, which has continuously become more violent and exploitative.
Feminist writer Susan Brownmiller wrote in her book Against Our Will, “Pornography, like rape, is a male invention, designed to dehumanise women, to reduce the female to an object of sexual access.” I don't agree with that; I think pornography is a human invention, and one of the oldest. Pornography in different forms has always been a source of amusement for people because we are sexual beings who enjoy seeing graphic representations of sex acts.
As the era progressed, the Golden Age of porn lost its shine as porn grew increasingly violent. What anti-porn feminists like Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin wanted was nothing more than to challenge what sex looked like on screen. They wanted an authentic experience for their sexualities; free from fear of exploitation or abuse, and that's still what feminist adult cinema filmmakers want today.
A lot of women think that feminism and porn are intrinsically dichotomous to each other because the woman is always the object of an assumed male audience, but I find it somewhat patronising. Women also like to watch sex on screen. Just because a certain type of heterosexual male has dominated mainstream porn industry for the last 40 years, does not mean it belongs to them.
Men are building up this concept with their perspective, totally neglecting female sexuality. When we, as feminists, make adult cinema we offer diversity and another discourse. One where women take over the representation of their sexuality and stop being objects of pleasure for men.
By creating space for women to show their perspective on things we get closer to equality.
I think real control over pleasure, in porn, comes from making decisions about how to produce and present it. That means having women in leading roles as directors, producers, art directors, directors of photography, etc.
We can fight, but the only way you change something is by getting into it. When, as a woman, you get into a position where you can help change happen faster, then you must do it.
Everything is different! I try to send out a positive message about sexuality and the vast range of sexualities out there, showing sex as fun and full of passion. In my case, I show women and men as sexual collaborators representing female sexuality and desires that take into account the female perspective and female pleasure.
I create films that are artistic and realistic, stimulating and relatable. My films help change gender perceptions, and positively mirror female sexuality. And while doing this, I try to make them as aesthetically beautiful and captivating as I can. Oh! And the performer's cum for real, no fake orgasms here!
I run a site called XConfessions where anonymous members of the public submit their fantasies and sexual confessions. I pick two stories a month and make them into a short film. When I choose a story, authenticity is important to me. I want to show realism through my stories and the performance of the actors and actresses.
I work with performers that enjoy working with me, who share my values and that I feel fit in the story. The most important message is that female pleasure matters. Not because male pleasure doesn't matter, it does! It's because for decades we've been watching a type of porn that completely ignores women’s sexuality. I think the difference with other female feminist directors is the vision. As women, we have different perspectives. We share the same values, and we all create an alternative to mainstream porn, but every filmmaker is unique.
Finally, a key element that's very distinctive to my work is that my crew are all women; there are 15 of us on set.
Complete freedom and pleasure.
My audience on XConfessions.com is made up of men and women. I think to assume that men and women enjoy two separate kinds of porn is absurd. We are all different, we all enjoy different things. What I am certain about is that women don't like to watch degrading and violent actions towards them (I am not talking about consensual BDSM practices here).
Some people enjoy watching sex that is similar to their experiences. Others prefer the fantasy of a scene that they would never experience in real life, like something taboo or elements of kink and BDSM.
Moments of intimacy, like focussing on the male faces when they orgasm or when they look into each other's eyes make the scene more real and ultimately more of a shareable experience.
I receive many emails from XConfessions subscribers thanking me because for the first time they can watch porn with their partners!
Yes, because in our society sex is still a taboo. There is a pervasive puritanical attitude in society that places these “moral” ideas on who we are and what we do. Sex is still this secretive, gross thing from which children need to be protected, and that we should never talk of outside of our personal lives. This belief creates a sense of shame and embarrassment about something that is natural to enjoy!
Watching porn has always been deemed obscene and abstruse and forced into obscurity. Teens and men can joke about it, but god forbid a woman said they enjoy sex on screen. We live in a sexist society, so women are ashamed to admit to liking something they "shouldn't".
As women feel more confident about their sexuality; they become free and empowered. They are more open to the idea of having fun watching porn. It's still a taboo to say out loud, but sooner or later women will be more vocal about it!
It depends on what kind of pornography. However, I think adult cinema that presents people as subjects and sexual collaborators, not objects or machines can be a good example. Porn that offers diversity can enable people to see themselves in those films and open their minds.
Sex educator and sex-positive feminist Candida Royalle said: “Bringing up what we want in bed can be difficult for all of us, especially women. We worry about being judged for our desires. Porn is a non-personal reference in the room so you can say, 'Look what they're doing. Did you ever think about doing that?"
As Royalle stated; adult cinema can lead the way to delve a little deeper into what we want or need in our lives regarding sex and to explore our sexuality with our partner. Couples can find something together that pleasures both of them and it's equally fun!
Now that there is a lot of porn on the internet, imagination becomes less relevant. That's why I love reading my user's fantasies on XConfessions.com.
However, poetry, for instance, can also be a sensory experience that can take us outside of our body and the normal confines of pleasure. My last release "Some Never Awaken" was inspired by a poem from Anaïs Nin. Someone felt a sexual awakening by reading it and wrote a confession.
In October last year, I launched an open call for female directors for XConfessions and had received around 500 applications! I allocated 250.000 euros from my company's budget, and I am procuring other directors. Audiences can expect a lot of exciting new things to come!
I see Fuck.com as being part of another sexual revolution which is happening in the digital world. Although I don't use dating sites (because I already have a partner), it's time to combine technological advances with a non-judgmental attitude about sex.
Is sex a taboo for you? What's your experience with erotic films? What would you like to see in feminist porn productions? If you have something to say, make a comment and enjoy Erika's short film "Feminist & Submissive" for FREE! Only if you're 18+, of course!
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