To Porn or Not to Porn

Porn may well be one of the most divisive issues among feminists today. Personally, I have an incredibly difficult time deciding where I stand. Like most feminists, I am all for the healthy expression of sexuality, which may manifest itself in a variety of forms. However, it is pretty darn hard to conceptualize a hierarchical sexual interaction as 'healthy,' particularly when it eroticizes violence and/or humiliation.

Yes, I've heard of 'feminist porn,' but I'm still skeptical of it. Honestly, I don't know enough about it to make a strong argument for or against it. This is a factor that makes the porn issue even trickier for me to navigate.

Anyway, no matter your take on porn, it is an undenaiably feminist issue and definitely worth examining as such...which is why I'm super-excited about the Media Education Foundation's new documentary The Price of Pleasure, which takes an in-depth look at the porn industry. The film includes voices from critics and supporters alike, from Female Chauvinist Pigs author Ariel Levy to award-winning pornographer Joanna Angel.

Michael Kimmel, a professor at SUNY Stony Brook sums up some of the reasons a film like this is so necessary:

"When we discuss pornography in my classes, we always begin with what seem to the
wrong conversations – the actress's choices; no harm, no foul; being pro-porn is just
being pro-sex; men don't have to be rapists to like it – always defensive and dishonest.
I've been waiting for a film that was neither sanctimoniously scolding nor callously
celebratory."

Here's the (strangely short) trailer (contains some explicit material)...

 

You can check out more clips on the film's site.

Some good news for university students, staff and/or faculty who would like to screen the film at their school--

In reaction to controversey surrounding the recent showing of a hardcore porn film at the University of Maryland, The Price of Pleasure filmmakers Chyng Sun and Miguel Picker have worked to make their documentary available free of charge to anyone who would like to organize a campus screening. See the Media Education Foundation's site for more info. I've already ordered the film for screening at my campus...here's to hoping it's as insightful and honest as it looks.

Comments

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Timely

Marilyn Chambers dies at age 56

If I were going to be a porn star, Marilyn Chambers is the one I would want to be. She was unapologetic, pioneering in the way she navigated that world, and stood strong during an era when it was lauded to declare oneself a victim of the patriarchy.

I look forward to catching this production, because I would *really* like to have an honest conversation about pornography as a woman, as a feminist and as a consumer.

feminist porn

feminist porn exists, and some of it's fantastic. please do your research before you knock it, because there are a ton of feminist sex workers that have chosen to make porn and have a hell of a good time doing it. maybe you forgot that queer women make porn, too, and that we tend to be pretty damn feminist about it? queer, feminist porn like the pinkandwhite productions is not only hottt, but is incredibly important: i don't see images of people like me having sex on a regular basis, and i can't tell you how awesome and validating it is, not to mention good for my sex life, to see people like me fucking. maybe being queer liberates us from some of the "men exploit women" knee-jerk sex-negative reactions that plague the straight feminist community, i don't know. so choose your alterna-porn carefully, but don't hate on the concept itself.

Hot and Bothered

Though I too am skeptical of feminist pornography, I do think a compelling alternative perspective can be seen in films like Becky Goldberg's Hot and Bothered: Feminist Pornography or Audacia Ray's The Bi Apple.

My group for my Feminist

My group for my Feminist Thought class actually just lead a discussion on pornography. I believe in the end that it is a woman's choice to do pornography. I may not agree with what she does, but it is her life and she is the one who has to live with those choices, not me. We also talked about how it degrades and how it empowers women, and how pornography effects how women view themselves becasue of it.

Where is this feminist

Where is this feminist pornography of which some of you speak? Before you get your list on, here are a few points to consider..

Just because it's made by women or has women in the crew or production team does not mean it's feminist.
Just because it features an inked up lesbian does not mean it's feminist.
Just because it features someone who is larger than the average women in pornography does not mean it's feminist
Just because it features someone nearly as old as your grandma does not mean it's feminist
Just because you're a women who chooses to watch it does not make it a feminist act.
Just because you're a woman who gets off on it does not make it a feminist act.
Just because you call yourself a feminist does not mean you're promoting feminism by making pornography. hugh hefner used to call himself a feminist..
If it features the eroticising of abuse of power it aint feminist.
If it features women aping the roles of men in pornography (eg suck my dildo bitch) it aint feminist.
If it apes, eroticises, legitmizes and fetishizes violence against women it aint feminist.

If you think commercial sexual exploitation is work like any other and you call yourself a feminist you've been duped. Big time.

Ps - i'm an inked up lesbian so get off your high horse

Having viewed the film, The

Having viewed the film, The Price of Pleasure, (which focuses on heterosexual sex porn) here's what I learned - the majority of porn produced today is violent and attempts to sexualize violence against women. As a feminist and public health nurse I also left asking myself: how does violence in pornography influence acceptance of violence against women, gender development, and sexual relationships.

Hmm

I'd recommend anyone who reads this movie to read this as well:

http://bppa.blogspot.com/2008/10/price-of-pleasure-deconstructed-part.html

and the other parts too.
i'm cynical at best.

The porno is not shameful

Porno everything look practically, and in it there is nothing bad and unnatural.
The man understands, that has matured, when the porno not looks to relax, and to be excited...