The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Porn Tuesday: None So Blind

As I see it, one of the main problems with the internet is that people don’t watch enough porn.

Stay with me here.

There’ve been a few articles in mainstream newspapers about “porn for women” lately, particularly after this year’s Feminist Porn Awards. The article in The Guardian was quite useful, especially given their history of providing a platform for a certain kind of anti-porn anti-prostitution female columnist. And the Sydney Morning Herald ran a piece after an Australian pornographer was nominated for an award.

What fascinates me is that in the comments to both articles you’ll find screeds of people happy to offer an opinion on the New Pornography, and how it’s just like the Old Pornography. “I don’t see how it’s any different!” And you know why? Because you haven’t fucking looked.

I know, the net is all about offering up unqualified opinion, and why should I find other people’s screaming ignorance embarrassing when they clearly don’t? Tough. I do.

And if you were dubious but curious, the SMH went to the trouble of getting in an expert to offer up a dissenting opinion. They don’t make it clear why they chose to ask a professor of Political Science, but she’s pretty adamant: “no pornography can break away from a male-orientated view of sex.”

She’s also Sheila Jeffreys. Sheila Jeffreys is the Gail Dines of Australia. Here’s Louise Lush (also known as Ms Naughty) on Jeffreys. And here’s Questioning Transphobia on Jeffreys’ issues in that area. And hey, here’s an Australian sex worker who has the odd entry tagged “Sheila Fucking Jeffreys“. For the trifecta, Jeffreys sees BDSM as inherently male sexual oppression of women, and boy do you have to erase a lot of people to do that. Maybe, though, I should just let her speak for herself:

 all feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women.

Yes, that’s right, she advocates political lesbianism, the kind of lesbianism that doesn’t include being sexually attracted to women.

So, if the positive voices are pornographers and the negative voices are batfuck crazy, how can you find out for yourself what the New Pornography is like?

Watch some porn.

And yeah, it’s a big, scary, squicky world to go out into with no guidance. So this is my first task: to provide you with a gentle ‘in’, a glimpse of what there is, without pushing people’s boundaries too far. By no means should anyone feel pressured to watch anything I link to. However. If you won’t even look? When it comes to talking about pornography? Shut the fuck up, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

I can promise you:

– no grainy blue film stock

– no boomchickawaawaa music

– no enormous hair or freaking scary fake fingernails

because seriously, it’s not the 80s any more, okay?

When it comes to positive sexual imagery, there is no height to which I cannot recommend the Sex Is Not The Enemy Tumblr (NSFW, explicit sexual imagery). Note the smiling, and the laughter.

Here, in a totally safe-for-work, won’t be taken down by YouTube fashion, Ms Naughty explores the idea of what porn for women actually is. (Men doing housework? Fucking seriously?)

Now, trailers and shorts. The great thing about trailers for my purposes here is that they give you a taste without going all the way. So while they’re explicit, you won’t be encountering prolonged sex scenes.

If you manage to watch one thing, make it this: the trailer for Erika Lust’s Barcelona Sex Project. (NSFW, explicit, wear your headphones, seriously.) Three men and three women, one by one, first do an interview, and then masturbate to orgasm. One of them does it wearing stripy socks.

For less white light and the new classic goth-alt porn vibe, try her Room 33, a full short film. (NSFW, mildly explicit.)

One of the most well-regarded series, and winners of multiple Feminist Porn Awards, is Crash Pad. Here’s a perfectly safe YouTube taster, and here’s a short featuring Jiz Lee. (NSFW, explicit, actual lesbian sex.) If that’s a bit full on, Friend of the Blog Amie describes another one of the Crash Pad series here. Thanks, Amie.

I have a bunch more links here, but you know… I’m going to stop with this one, Bleu Productions. These are lesbian fetish and BDSM films. (NSFW, moderately explicit) Click on the TOP player on the right hand side to see a trailer of Maria Beatty’s work. If you click on the second player down, you’ll end up watching Vampire Sisters, and I laughed pretty hard.

From there, you could try the work of Anna Span or Candida Royale. Or, okay, one more, Comstock Films Bill and Desiree. (NSFW, mildly explicit.) (I was hesitant to include this, but I’ll just note that Comstock Films consider their work “erotic documentaries”, not porn.)

Can you see how it’s any different? That’s all I really want, for people to have this as their mental image, or at least a part of their mental image, when they think about pornography. You don’t have to think that therefore it’s okay, but at least know what the fuck you’re talking about.

There’s an obvious question that remains after all that, and we’ll get to that next time.

18 responses to “Porn Tuesday: None So Blind

  1. tallulahspankhead May 24, 2011 at 10:22 am

    “When it comes to positive sexual imagery, there is no height to which I cannot recommend the Sex Is Not The Enemy Tumblr (NSFW, explicit sexual imagery). Note the smiling, and the laughter.”

    Seconded.

    ” all feminists can and should be lesbians.”

    Seriously? I should be a lesbian? How about I Should be allowed to define my sexuality for my own damn self?

    • Emma May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Oh darling, that’s a bit self-centred of you, don’t you think? You’re not considering the Good Of Women, which should come before your own piffling delusional male-constructed desires. And the Good Of Women means we should all stop having sex with men, and then… well, die out as a species, I guess.

      • tallulahspankhead May 24, 2011 at 10:43 am

        But I like having sex with men. It’s not a male-constructed desire, it’s MY desire.

        Seriously…didn’t advocating political lesbianism die out with bra burning?

        And as for BDSM being the inherently male sexual oppression of women…fuck that for a bag of chopsticks. Aside from the myriad ways it works other than male top, female sub (obviously), you have to have absolutely no understanding of the dynamic at play to believe that. Do these “academics” actually ever speak to the people they are “researching”?

    • Moz May 24, 2011 at 10:56 am

      By sheer coincidence I was helping our new housemate attach to the house network and get her internet access sorted last night. Which somehow got into “I’ve never actually seen porn on the internet” and the obligatory google search for “show me the hawt lesbians” (who knew so many lesbians liked sex with men?). I will have to suggest this post to her once her eyeballs recover from the searing.

      I struggle to read people like Sheila Jeffreys seriously. Maybe I read too much satire, but after the first few strawman positions I mentally default to “she’s taking the piss” mode unless I actively fight it. Which leaves me enraged.

      • Moz May 24, 2011 at 11:01 am

        Do these “academics” actually ever speak to the people they are “researching”?

        To misquote emma, “first, establish your conclusion”. At that point write a short ad looking for research subjects, but be sure the ad is very clear about what sort of subject you’re looking for. “wanted: female BDSM survivors” would be a good start in this case.

        I am mildly amused at how many of the men in a certain social group I frequent fall into Ani’s “reluctant boyfriend holding pen” concept. I suspect partly it’s the strong socialisation from both sides that “hitting girls is wrong” extending to both “holding her down is wrong” and “even if she likes it”.

        • Jackie Clark May 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm

          Isn’t it interesting? I would have put myself in the differentiation between porn and erotica category. I would have said that porn was the “nasty” stuff. However, I see that the definition of pornography – which funnily enough I have never looked up, even though I use it regularly myself (not the word) – is simply the depiction of erotic behaviour, as you said in your first post, designed to arouse. And there you have it. I have always argued against pornography – the traditional sort – as being anti woman, and much of it was. This, what you call, New Pornography is something entirely different. I particularly liked Bill and Desiree. If older people holding hands in public makes me go “aw”, then older people having sex makes me go “yeah!”.

          • Emma May 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm

            Jackie, that makes me really happy. Because yeah, a lot of the heat in these arguments arises from people using the same words to mean different things. Like the way Jeffreys made up a whole new meaning for the word ‘lesbian’.

            And yeah, what Comstock films is doing is something I find really interesting. Each of their films depicts a relationship, and simply includes the sex along with everything else, as an essential part of the relationship. Theoretically (because I don’t mean to imply that it has in any way worked) it’s an attempt to get sex back into the mainstream and out of the ‘porn ghetto’.

        • Draco T Bastard May 27, 2011 at 10:45 pm

          I suspect partly it’s the strong socialisation…

          Yes, there’s some of that but for myself it goes deeper than that. I will not dominate nor will I be dominated.

          As for “feminist porn” – meh, still just porn and just as boring.

  2. Matthew Proctor May 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    No Abbie Winters? Emma, I am disappoint.

    • Emma May 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Aw, I’d hate to be disappointing.

      There’s quite a bit of Abby Winters turns up on the Sex is Not the Enemy tumblr. Ironic given Gail Dines’s recent attack on them.

  3. Amie May 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    People who say all porn is bad porn should just seriously shut up. There is so much good porn out there but unfortunately you have to do your research to find it. You’ve given some good links. Off the top of my head and other than Crash Pad, sites I rate include: nofauxxx.com, courtneytrouble.com, queerporn.tv (and queerporn.tv/qtube – the queer porn youtube), cyber-dyke.net, heavenlyspire.com, cocksexual.com, ishotmyself.com, beautifulagony.com, vegporn.com, paddedkink.com, feck.com.au…

  4. Ally May 24, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    I came here to recommend some nofauxx and Courtney Trouble but I see Amie has already taken care of business.

    I’m really liking these posts. Porn is too often the scapegoat.

  5. Dan May 25, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Today I learned political lesbianism is a thing.

  6. ludditejourno May 26, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Hey Emma,
    nice links, particularly like “Sex is not the Enemy”, gave me lots of smiles.

    While criticising Sheila Jeffreys for her political polemic is completely valid, particularly as you say, because she has been so vehemently anti-trans*, I think her position on the sex industry is a bit more complex than you’ve noted here.
    And the quote about political lesbianism? From 1979. When it was still possible to get arrested for being a man who shagged men. Important to note that I think – lesbians and other political queers at that time in the west were working hard to change the world – and they did. But lots of what they were saying then doesn’t work that well in today’s world, thank goddess.
    That said, I have no idea if that would still be her position now. Let’s hope not.

    • Emma May 26, 2011 at 10:43 am

      Hey. My point in linking to hexy’s stuff of Jeffreys was to show how she’s thought of by sex workers – people she’s perfectly happy to talk about.

      Her “political lesbianism” is based on the idea that sexual orientation is a choice, something I can’t (in an admittedly quite brief search just now) find any evidence that she’s ever backed away from. That’s an idea that many genuinely LGBT people, myself included, find actively unhelpful. I’ve had a long conversation about this with a friend who was part of a lesbian-feminist university group in the late 80s that was invaded (her word) by political feminists, and suddenly the idea that there was any element of “fancying and shagging women” was right out the window. She felt her sexuality had been co-opted, not helped.

    • Emma May 26, 2011 at 10:45 am

      Gah, re-read, sounds bad. That’s not to say there weren’t positives, that there wasn’t some fantastic work done. Just, y’know, two sides.

      • ludditejourno May 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm

        Cool, gotcha. I think too, that the “choice” vs “nature” argument around sexuality is extraordinarily loaded and has political positives in both directions eh? I’m more of a choice woman myself, for myself – but know, as you say, loads of queer people who emphatically don’t agree with that for them, and that’s cool.
        I just have a big sadness around political lesbianism I think, which is often drowned out in scornful homophobia by the mainstream. That there were some women who couldn’t find a way to be joyfully sexual with men at all, didn’t fancy women, and therefore were being not sexual, not necessarily through lack of desire. That makes me feel sad. And I guess I blame the patriarchy, rather than some political lesbians stance on that. And emphatically hate the idea that being a woman-loving-woman doesn’t get to include loving women 🙂

        • Emma May 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm

          Oh, yeah, nothing wrong with being asexual when you’re actually asexual, but if you’re not? However. My sympathy stops at the point where you start telling other women how they should be expressing their own sexuality.

          Where it becomes a problem for me – now, these days – is that, okay, I’m really interested in ideas on the objectification of women from lesbian and bi women. I mean, the captain of the Canadian Women’s Olympic Curling Team seriously curls my toes and I don’t even know her name. But I’d like to be sure that if I’m listening to a lesbian talk about objectification, she’s actually attracted to women.

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