As I have done the previous four years, I served on a panel of judges for the upcoming Feminist Porn Awards (FPA) sponsored by Good For Her, the premiere erotic boutique in Toronto. As a judge, I watched a lot of porn in the past few weeks. A LOT of porn.
I’ve blogged about the FPA in the past, and what the spirit of the show means. Read my articles if you’re interested to know my history with it.
This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the awards, and my last year as a judge for the show. As much as I have enjoyed doing it, I’m passing the baton due to other commitments.
The FPA is an inclusive forum for filmmakers—gay, straight, transgender, and those who identify themselves differently. For me, the highest marks went to the films that met all or most of the following criteria:
1) Inclusiveness: The work expands sexual representation on film and presents a vision that sets it apart from mainstream pornography.
2) Good quality filmmaking: If you shot the film using your phone, chances are you won’t win points with me. I like good quality filmmaking, attention to detail, lighting, and sound.
3) Creativity: Just as I don’t enjoy reading about stereotypes, I don’t enjoy watching sexual stereotypes. Show me something I haven’t seen before.
4) Arousal factor: Did the film arouse me? Even if the film does not depict something I would necessarily like, I need to see that the actors are genuinely enjoying themselves.
5) Story: Story crafting is not always necessary, but if the film strives to tell one, then please don’t include a thinly-veiled “Pizza delivery boy scene.” It’s unnecessary if it adds nothing.
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The films I saw are unlikely to hit mainstream theatres. And over the years, it has surprised some people that I’m involved with movies in this genre.
One question that has continued to pop up, especially in light of Fifty Shades of Grey, (which I have neither read nor watched the movie) is:
You support feminist porn, but what does it say about a woman if she enjoys fantasies where men dominate women? Isn’t this against feminism?
Though I’ve answered this question privately, I’ve never formally answered it, so I will do so now.
Let me talk about feminism first, as my definition of it may not be the same as yours. I believe in the rights of people, which means both women’s rights AND men’s rights. One should not trump the other based on sex.
My idea of feminism is not that I should have everything that men have, but I should not be prohibited to pursue what I want in life because I am a woman.
It does NOT mean that all things ‘male’ need to be open to me. Just as not all things ‘female’ should be open to men.
As an example, I have zero interest in joining exclusive men’s clubs where they drink whisky, smoke cigars, and whatever else men do behind closed doors out of the watchful eye of their wives and significant others. To women who feel they should be able to join these clubs, I say: Start your own damn club!
That is the freedom you have.
I am all for gender equality, but I believe there is value in men bonding with men only. And the same is true for women being with women only. Men and women are inherently different. We don’t always find the same things appealing, and nowhere is this more evident than when we socialize. We behave differently when members of the opposite sex are around. This may not be the case if the men and women know each other very well, but otherwise, most of us have been socialized to behave in a certain way depending on the company we keep.
At times, I fear the fight to close the gender gap has verged on the ridiculous, which in turn, has muddied more legitimate pursuits. An issue such as equal pay for equal work should be a no-brainer, and yet, women with the same job and same qualifications as men are still, on the whole, paid less than men. This is worth fighting for, not trying to get into private men’s clubs.
But hey, that’s just how I feel.
Sorry, I went off on a tangent.
Back to the question of women who fantasize about being dominated by men. Is this against feminism?
It’s that simple.
I refuse to police anyone’s desires or fantasies. I am sure there are many women with fantasies of being dominated by men, myself included. It does not make me weak, passive, or against feminism.
Men dominating women on film and in literature are not anti-feminist, but a reason it may be perceived as such is because consent is not always clear.
That is a key factor in fantasy play, and it must be explicit.
If all we ever see or read is men dominating women, then some people may think this type of power exchange is what all women want. That is not the case. Conversely, the stereotype of the woman who only wants soft, gentle, romantic sex in her porn and books is also untrue.
Regardless of who is on top, both men and women should have the freedom to explore their fantasies, sans judgment, especially since the psychology of eroticism is impossible to define.
What I find erotic is not within my control, so why do I need to fit my fantasy into a box that is socially acceptable?
My erotic imagination and life should not have to conform to my real life, which is built around a specific set of social and moral values.
The two lives never have to meet.
As human beings, we need to stop judging others for their sexual preferences and realize that the mind is both complex and mysterious. It’s not our sexual fantasies that inform our decisions and how we behave in the real world.
So … in a nutshell, if you’re a woman who wants a man to dominate you in your fantasies, go for it if it turns you on. It does not make you a bad person nor does it make you anti-feminist.
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Come join me at the events leading up to the FPA Gala this Friday. Tickets are still available at Good For Her or online at: The 10th Anniversary Feminist Porn Awards! – Feminist Porn Awards. If you’re able to make it, come and say “hi.” I’d love to meet you. ;)
Wednesday April 15th Erika Lust and XConfessions
The Royal Cinema 608 College St., Toronto
Thursday April 16th Public. Provocative. Porn
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema 506 Bloor St W, Toronto
Friday April 17th Feminist Porn Awards Gala
Capitol Event Theatre 2492 Yonge St., Toronto