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porn This woman has spent 13 years creating female friendly porn.

“I make feminist porn.”

 

 

 

 

 

By MS. NAUGHTY

I still remember the day I bought my first porn magazine. It was 20 years ago, before the internet, when you actually had to front up and show your face to purchase adult material.

I scrunched up my courage, strode purposefully into the newsagent and boldly took a copy of Australian Women’s Forum to the counter. The bored assistant didn’t look twice as I handed over the cash with shaking hands. She also didn’t give me the expected brown paper bag so I was forced to roll the magazine up and make a dash for the car.

I remember that day because it changed my life.

Despite my embarrassment, I was determined to buy a copy of AWF because I thought it was revolutionary. It was an adult magazine that was made solely for straight women. It featured centerfold spreads of naked men and a gloriously dirty letters section, yet it also proudly considered itself feminist, including articles on body image, famous feminists and women’s rights issues. It showed me that porn didn’t have to be sexist or degrading as Andrea Dworkin insisted. It showed me that erotic content could happily encompass women’s power and show a woman’s perspective.

I bought every issue and went on to write regularly for AWF until it folded in 2001. And then I went online, back in the days when the web was new, and I became a feminist pornographer, keen to follow in AWF’s footsteps and make porn for women like myself.

For the last 13 years, my mission has been to create porn with a more positive outlook, one that dispensed with the sexism and offensive language and tried to give priority to a woman’s pleasure and point of view. I’ve done this by creating websites like For The Girls and Bright Desire, writing erotic fiction and articles about sex, as well as making erotic films.

Screen Shot 2013 07 26 at 2.42.37 PM This woman has spent 13 years creating female friendly porn.

Feminist porn website, ‘For the Girls’

I’ve always considered this to be a feminist action. The personal is also political and sex and porn are one of the frontlines in the ongoing battles against patriarchy. By inverting the tropes of mainstream porn and by deliberately speaking to women, I felt I was making a difference in the world.

Porn doesn’t have to be sexist, or stupid, or degrading. It can be beautiful, realistic, positive and inclusive. Sex is a common human experience, albeit one experienced through the prism of gender. By making porn for women, I aim to even up the scales a little and bring a female perspective to the table.

People often have a preconceived idea about pornographers. The stereotype is one of sleaze and shady characters, of mafia involvement and exploitation – and the producers are always, always seen as male. I don’t fit into that mould at all. I’m a happily married, independently-funded woman, working from home with my husband, just trying to create a better vision of sex.

I have yet to meet any criminals or Godfather types in this business; almost everyone I’ve met or encountered online are average, suburban types. You wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if you saw them on the street. We’re mostly regular people, albeit with a very open-minded and relaxed attitude towards sex and porn.

I’ll admit I’ve become pretty blasé about pornography in general. I’ve been immersed in it so long that I don’t really see it anymore and I find very little of it to be arousing or shocking.

I’ve actually caught myself showing friends or family one of my sites, keen to discuss the web design or the graphics or the movie with the nice lighting we set up in difficult circumstances.

It’s only when I see their faces that I realise that, wait, yes, that’s a woman arching over a desk receiving cunnilingus from a guy with a unusually large schlong and it’s not what normal people show their friends on their iPhone when talking about work.

When people start shuffling from foot to foot or backing away I realise it’s time to chat about the weather for a bit.

Despite my blasé attitude, I was incredibly nervous making my first film, That’s What I Like. I went to a lot of trouble with the set and the lighting and I was choosy about my performers. I made sure they were on board with what I was trying to do and were happy to work together; indeed, they went on a date and had a “practice fuck” a couple of nights beforehand so they were comfortable with each other. I also had a mentor there to help with the cameras and give advice.

porn is not sex This woman has spent 13 years creating female friendly porn.

“I try to bring a female gaze to my work.”

Even so, I found myself putting off the moment where I called “Action!”. I felt awkward and rather frightened about what was about to happen. I’d never been in a room where other people were having sex before and I had no idea how I would react.

Thankfully, my performers were professionals and they were also rather horny and keen to get on with it. And I discovered that filming porn is like everything else in this business; it’s just work. I was so concerned with making sure I got the right shots and capturing everything my performers were doing that I barely had a moment to think until it was over.

Still, there are rare moments when I catch myself, mid-scene, and wonder what the hell I’m doing and how I got there. There are two naked people going at it hammer and tongs just there and it’s not the type of thing I imagined when someone asked me what I was going to do when I grew up and – oh my god, that’s kind of sexy and- whoa! damn! But then I realize I need to zoom in to get that shot of her toes curling up in pleasure and I switch back into professional work mode without a second thought.

Regular porn is a very constructed thing but that’s not how I work, especially when filming real-life couples. I don’t tell them to stop halfway through just so I can get a good angle; instead, they just do what they enjoy and I work hard to get what I can on camera. The end result is – for me – far better than regular porn. What I capture is more realistic and connected; the performers laugh and make mistakes and – most importantly – experience real pleasure and joy.

I’ve also tried to bring a female gaze to my work, especially with my films featuring straight men. Women are still not supposed to admire the male body, even though I find it beautiful, and porn often depicts men as disembodied penises, always hard, always dominant. My solo films seek to personalize the performers and present them in a more wholistic way; I use erotic voiceover as a way of enhancing fantasy and getting into the mind of the person we see on film. Our biggest sex organ is our brain and I always seek to stimulate that with my films.

All the performers I’ve worked with have been amazing people. They genuinely enjoy what they do, often being exhibitionists, and I always make sure they have agency on set. I get to know them beforehand, discuss plans in the days leading up to the shoot, never push them to do more than we discussed and I do my best to respect them in every way.

The porn stars I’ve met also don’t conform to the stereotype. I’ve worked with performers who have PhDs, with sex education experts, with artists, with writers, with women who are studying social work and offer their services pro-bono for charities.

I’ve met porn stars who run their own businesses online and who don’t take shit from anyone. They often have kids and partners and regular lives outside of work. Every one of them has been happy with their choice of work and keen to do something different. It may not be the case across the entire porn industry but it’s certainly the case within the feminist porn community.

One of my favourite stars, Adrianna Nicole, told me how she got into porn when I met her in Berlin. Adrianna may be an Amazon

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Performer, Adrianna Nicole

onscreen but she’s actually very shy. She said she took up porn because she loved sex it was the easiest way to get it without all the social hassle of going to bars and talking to people. I love her story because it is a reminder not to make assumptions about the performers in porn. Each has their own story and life experience and they should be respected for their choices.

My work has meant I’ve got to meet a lot of amazing people. I’ve chatted with female directors like Candida Royalle, Petra Joy, Tristan

Taormino, Shine Louise Houston and Courtney Trouble, all of whom are incredibly intelligent, hard-working and dedicated to their own vision of porn.

I’ve also got to meet some wonderful academics like Constance Penley, Kevin Heffernan, Alan McKee and Clarissa Smith, all of whom research or teach courses on porn, approaching it with a rational and critical perspective. In Toronto in April I got to speak at the Feminist Porn Conference and engage in some amazing discussions with them about the future of porn and how it can be made into something better. These people are my community and I feel honoured to be a part of the wider feminist porn movement.

Of course, it’s not always easy being a pornographer. It means I lead something of a double life; secrecy about what I do is par for the course because society is determined to judge and condemn, despite the fact that I’m trying to do something positive.

petrajoy2 This woman has spent 13 years creating female friendly porn.

Feminist pornographer, Petra Joy.

I have an ongoing drama with the inevitable question, “So, what do you do?” At parties and social events I’m always confronted with the choice of fobbing off the question or Dropping The Bomb. I try to gauge if the person in front of me is open minded, although it’s really only a guess.

There was one occasion when I’d had too much wine and just blurted it out, enjoying the shocked reaction from people in front of me. I present more as a librarian than a pornographer so – when I do drop the bomb – it’s interesting to see people reassess their opinion of me.

On that occasion my husband came back from the bar to find me surrounded by about ten women, all fascinated and wanting to know the ins-and-outs of it all. At the same time, there was one new friend who wasn’t impressed and it’s that person I have to worry about. I don’t want to be judged or – worse still – hassled because of what I do. So I am often circumspect about who I tell.

My family knows and they’re fairly unimpressed. I think my parents wish I’d just stayed as a librarian. But I don’t regret my career choice. It’s been an amazing ride and I feel like I’m making a small difference in the world. I’m not ready to give it up just yet. Sex, sexuality, gender and feminism are fascinating topics for me and I’m keen to keep exploring them in my own way.

Ms. Naughty is a feminist porn filmmaker and writer. She has been making porn for women online since 2000. Her erotic films have won several awards and featured at international film festivals. She has a chapter discussing her work in The Feminist Porn Book. She runs http://www.BrightDesire.com (nsfw) and blogs at http://www.MsNaughty.com/blog/ (nsfw)

Do you watch porn? Why or why not? Do you find porn degrading?

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