On judging feminist p*rn and what feminism means to me

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.

good for her banner

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:

I love feminist porn

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.

* * * *

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?

No.

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.

CONSENT.

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?

I don’t.

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.

 * * * *

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. 😉

FPA poster final jpeg

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

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23 Comments

Filed under Feminist Porn, Revelations & Humor

23 responses to “On judging feminist p*rn and what feminism means to me

  1. Well said. Have fun at the ceremony – wish I could be there with you 😉

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  2. Eden, I loved this post. Thank you for being a feminist. Thank you for celebrating feminism and thank you for helping to open the dialog about sexual fantasies. One would think that those conversations are happening and that women are becoming more open about their sexual needs and desires. Sadly that is not the case and when someone initiates sex positive talk then they are helping women to be more open and adventurous. You are a gem. Hugs, Ardee-ann

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    • Ardee-ann, really happy you enjoyed it. It is concerning that women still feel ashamed about the nature of their fantasies at times, especially when it conflicts with their social values.

      Somehow society/people have shamed us into thinking our sexual fantasies need to conform to some kind of standard. What is shameful to me is that these ‘bullies’ get away with it sometimes.

      Thanks you, as always, for your support,
      xo
      eden

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  3. Awesome post, Eden, and so very well expressed. xoxo

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  4. Bravo, Eden- and so very well said.

    Have fun!

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  5. Lucid and logical. Well done.

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  6. Brava. I love your criteria. I respect and admire your candor, and I dig your feminism.

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  7. Well stated, Eden. Thanks for sharing this and I will definitely pass it along. Enjoy the Fest!

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  8. Well said. I’m with you 200%.
    Wish I could go just to meet you in person. I’d bring you lime Jell-o. 🙂
    ❤ U
    xoxo

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  9. I agree with you that women should be allowed to explore their fantasies, and that sometimes those fantasies include domination by men. That’s just the way we’re wired sometimes; there’s even the oh-so-taboo “rape fantasy” that no one wants to talk about. But it’s quite common for women, but usually because it conforms to the *myth* about rapes – that it’s about passion, desire, he just can’t help himself because you’re *that hot*. Of course, as we all know in the real world, rape isn’t about desire, it’s about rank and ugly domination of the woman – ruining her, even.

    So when Rhett carts Scarlett up the stairs to have his wicked Yankee way with her, women swoon because, well, he *loves* her. Hugely. And he’s tired, as he puts it, of another man being in their bed every night. Of course, in the real world it would most likely be terrifying and painful and shameful for Scarlett. Nor would she have anyone to turn to for compassion and support.

    But, you know, i get that scene. “Rape” the way *women* would have it (which is not really rape.)

    What bothers me, though, is the emphasis feminists put on “rape culture” and they blame mostly, or pretty much only, men. And I watch the success of 50 Shades of Grey, which is NOT about a healthy BDSM relationship, and I cringe. That along with Anne Rice’s gawdessawful Sleeping Beauty Trilogy (which, Goddess help us all, I’ve read is being turned into a TV trilogy.)

    I’ve read one of the books and it’s pretty f**ked up, IMO. Call me judgemental if you like but if a *man* had written it feminists would have strung him up by his balls years ago.

    It sends a mixed message to both men and women. Is rape *sometimes* okay? Is it actually *sometimes* sexy? And ‘splain, Lucy, please, how it’s, what’s the word I’m looking for that feminists always use, oh yeah, EMPOWERING?!?!

    Seriously?!?!

    I *really* think if feminists want to talk about what’s wrong with ‘rape culture’ they should start with themselves. Why are these damn books so popular if rape is bad? If consent is required?

    Just imagine if Jian Ghomeshi had written 50 Shades or the Sleeping Beauty books. How “empowering” would they be *then*?

    Feminism really is about equality. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. And vice versa. If it’s wrong for men to write violent rape literature, how is it okay when women do it?

    Is, as the King of Siam once said, a puzzlement.

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    • Hello Nicole, lovely lady. I miss you. As usual, you don’t mince words, and I love that about you, so I won’t mince mine either.

      I can’t answer the question about why the books you mentioned are so popular. Certainly they are popular with young and old, women who may or may not identify themselves as feminists. I don’t know their leanings and whether they care at all about feminist issues.

      Let me speak on behalf of myself only, because I already mentioned I fantasize about domination, and I have written about it as well in my books. Dominant men come from my erotic imagination. Yet, I have never once thought of being with a man in real life who might harm me physically or sexually. If a man would even think of abusing me in this way, he would not be in my life for longer than a nanosecond. For the most part, I’ve only ever been in the company of intelligent, ethical, caring men. My erotic fantasies do not in any way reflect a tolerance for sexist and unenlightened attitudes — be they from men or women.

      That’s what I mean when I say our fantasies are projections of how complex we are as people. They aren’t rational or politically correct.

      As you say, feminism is about equality. I agree wholeheartedly with you on that. It’s not about the rights of one sex over the other. I don’t care who you are, male/female, gay/straight/transgender/queer, it’s wrong to promote non-consensual sex. Do it often enough, and this type of power exchange may eventually become the ‘new’ normal, but it doesn’t make it right.

      The problem when we write or make films about the domination of women – is that the ‘fictional’ aspect is forgotten, and for some odd reason, it is assumed to be a slice of reality when in fact there is little correlation. As artists, we each aim to push the envelope and I have no doubt the lines blur at times. I’m no political activist. I don’t strive to make my fiction a commentary, but I do try my best to be responsible. Do I always accomplish this? Maybe not. Do other writers or filmmakers even consider their impact on social issues, or do they care? I don’t know.

      Some of the burden has to rest with readers and filmgoers. They need to understand that fiction does not always represent reality. If anything, sometimes all it does is allude to popular thinking, to stereotypes, or possibly only to what the artist feels is saleable.

      eden

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  10. Pingback: Feminist Porn Awards 2015 – Photo Slideshow #FPA2015 |

  11. Anonymous

    If feminism is defined as equality for both genders and are pro porn as a way for females to express themselves, should there be an equal amount of male pornography and female pornography to promote the message that the value of a person is based on how sexually attractive they are. If so, we should be hiring men based on whether they have a full head of hair or their penis size in order to promote more opportunities for men with a full head of hair and a big dick and oppress men who are bald by limiting their opportunities/self value in society. This is similar to the feminism porn that suggest that only beautiful women are powerful or deserve equal opportunities and value only beautiful women and oppressing ugly women by restricting their value/ equal opportunities in society.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Anonymous, thank you for commenting. I didn’t see your note until today so apologize for the late response. Feminist porn does not discriminate based on appearance of the actors, regardless of gender. This happens in traditional porn where women and men must meet certain criteria or attributes. Few women will relate to the buxom blond who is 5′ 11″ with double D breasts and an hourglass waist. The men in these mainstream films have appearances equally unattainable by the majority of men.

      It is largely due to these kinds stereotypes that have created secondary/alternative streams of porn. What fem porn aims to do is dispel perceptions that only “beautiful, perfect” heterosexual people have sex and enjoy it.

      I speak of fantasy quite a bit in my post, and porn is ultimately a vehicle for fantasy, nothing more. If a bigger segment of the population is represented in porn, we are moving toward a more realistic depiction of how we see the world. It’s a small step to accepting that sexuality spans all body types, genders, race, and so on.

      Sexuality is but one component that speaks to our tolerance of those who are ‘different’ than us, but it is an important element of what makes us human.

      eden

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