What is feminist pornography?

No, “feminist pornography” isn’t an oxymoron—at least it doesn’t have to be. But to answer the question of what exactly it is in a single blog post is perhaps a fool’s errand; it’s the centerpiece of an entire collection of essays, after all, which are bound together nicely in the righteously unapologetic The Feminist Porn Book.

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My cat, Hashtag, and her favorite work of non-fiction

Throughout the book, its essayists provide distinct—yet in many ways convergent—definitions of what feminist pornography means to them. And who better to answer that question than those who have lived the lifestyle and worked behind and in front of the camera themselves?

Of course, The Feminist Porn Book‘s contributors can speak truth to the matter with an authenticity I can only attempt to relay through my own understanding, but below are distilled lists of what, based on my reading of the book, feminist pornography does and does not embody.

Feminist pornography does:

  • put women in a position to choose their partners and the nature of the scene itself when agreeing to a scene
  • embrace intersectional constructs of femininity and gender identity
  • emphasize the sexual agency of women
  • tend toward depictions of consent and the desires of a female viewer and protagonist

Feminist pornography does not:

  • assume the desires of all women are identical
  • shame women who seek an explicit sexual viewing experience
  • pursue stereotypical presentations of women in sexual or sex-related media
  • depict narratives that center around coercion or the subjugation of women to men’s desires

So why focus on feminist pornography this Thursday at Pornucopia? Because I used The Feminist Porn Book as a foundational resource in my pre-write research for Accounting for it All.

This research figured broadly into the novel’s thematic backdrop, but specifically into the creation of Robin’s mentor, Cee, from whose feminist pornography studio, Pornucopia, this very site gets its name. Cee wasn’t always into feminist pornography, however—on the contrary, her career began as many do, mired in an industry overwhelmingly catered to the perceived desires of men.

Rather than depict Cee’s story as one of stasis in a world where she and the women she works with have always been in control, though, I thought it was important to demonstrate the journey that she and others took to arrive at where they are when the book begins.

That is to say, to me it was critical that prevailing narratives of pornography be presented hand-in-hand with countervailing, feminist ones so that this interplay could form the basis for Accounting for it All‘s protagonist, Robin, to push back against industry constructs and the attitudes of the men she encounters along the way.

All of this begs the question, then: is Accounting for it All an outright embrace of feminist pornography and the values it represents? One of my goals in writing it was to at least introduce the idea of feminist pornography to a broader audience, juxtaposing it against narratives about the industry that readers might be more familiar with.

Whether I achieved that goal or not remains to be seen; I’ll let readers decide for themselves when the book is released in November 2018.


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