The porn that I love

(Please note that links in this post lead to explicit material.)

I am an unashamed and unapologetic porn consumer.  I am also a feminist.  These two labels have not always played nicely together in the world of feminist theory, and there are many and good reasons for that.

Porn, at it’s worst, can construct damaging and hateful representations of gender.  Old school porn often looks like “frightening men doing frightening things to frightening women,” to quote one of my classmates.  When some people think of porn, that’s what they imagine.  The hyper-violent man violating the hyper-sexualized woman.  Pernicious dominant ideals?  Check, check, check.

Feminist theorists such as Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon have been speaking out against porn for decades.  In the 1980s, Dworkin and MacKinnon worked to get legislation passed that would recognize pornography as sex discrimination.  And they were fighting for a good cause, porn can be very damaging.  Being coerced into working in porn, participating in a subculture that not only believes in but actively performs the most unhealthy of the dynamics between the genders is a serious problem.

However.

Porn, like prostitution, is not as simple as we would sometimes like it to be.  There are aspects of porn that are horrifying and should be stopped.  There are also bigoted high school teachers and bullying running rampant in high school hallways, but we are not calling for the end of high school education.  I use the education analogy intentionally, because I believe that porn can be incredibly educational (both for the good and the bad).  In porn, sexual minorities can see a positive representation of themselves that they just don’t see in the popular culture.  Feminist pornographers are exploring women’s sexual expression, and porn stars themselves are actively involved in making sex safer.

We’ll start with gay porn, and a particular gay porn star.  First, I recommend reading an article, The Trouble With Safe Sex by Seth Michael Donsky.  Porn star Mike Dreyden is working with the organization MSHP which provides HIV testing in nightclubs.  He gives out free porn samples to men who get tested, and advocates for safer sex practices.

How does this relate to gender?  Primarily because this is one of the ways that porn can offer a positive model for gender formation.  Part of the dominant idea of masculinity involves risk-taking, and this is one example of porn offering a safer model of masculinity.

Queer porn is also interesting in the way that it presents masculinity, femininity and gender roles within a sexual context.  Where some (and, as someone who has seen a fair bit of porn I would venture to say maybe even most) traditional, heterosexual porn involves a certain… patriarchal flair?… queer porn seems to, at its best, avoid this.  There’s a redefinition of sexuality and gender-construction happening within the genre.  For two excellent (and hot) examples, check out Madison Young’s two docu-porn offerings (links are explicit) Fluid: Men Redefining Sexuality (which won the 2010 Feminist Porn Awards for “Best Bisexual Movie”) and Fluid: Women Redefining Sexuality (nominated for the 2010 Feminist Porn Awards).

And positive gender construction is happening in other areas as well.  Tony Comstock has put together an excellent series of videos that feature a variety of sexualities, ages, body types and genders.

If you’re interested in finding out about feminist and queer-positive porn, I recommend stopping in at Tiny Nibbles and taking a peek around.  Violet Blue has put together a fantastic compilation of links, and blogs about all things sex (and tech) related.  Plus, she is smoking hot.  Well worth the time spent poking around the site.

And remember…

Now, before I get called on it in the comments, the song presents an amusing, but highly problematic construction of gender!  Both men and women can and do enjoy porn, can and do enjoy masturbation, and all genders are welcome to unzip their flies for porn, porn, porn.

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~ by Gloom Fairy on April 22, 2010.

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