Today's Gratitude Journal: Thank You, Feminist Porn

Today's Gratitude Journal: Thank You, Feminist Porn

The first pornographic movie I ever saw was without a doubt the worst porn I have seen to this day. It was a home-made piece of trash, featuring crying women and a cameraman who played the dual role of the only male figure in every scene, pointing his camera down at his penis and the crying girl saying her lines. I was watching with two friends, also girls, and we stared in silence. It was horrible. It was terrifying. It was all too easy to feel that we were also in a nightmare along with the actresses, agreeing to these parts for reasons we couldn't fathom, regretting every second as they happened. Without a word, we turned the video off and left the house.

I was twelve years old, and already knew I was a feminist. This film was everything to me I had imagined was the worst of pornography. It was joyless, artless, and exploitative. But part of me understood there was an appeal- humans are visual creatures, we're stimulated and excited by beauty and action.

In high school, I tried to be "one of the guys." When a male friend would produce a porno from his backpack, I'd sit down and watch it, mocking the lack of plot or ridiculous dialogue, but I was always uncomfortable. Women were props in those movies. They were there for the sexual gratification of the men onscreen and in the room. No matter how loudly I mocked the films, I felt unsettled. As though by not saying how wrong it was that these women seemed to have no agency of their own, I was agreeing that I didn't, either.

Still, I knew that there had to be good porn out there, somewhere, so I decided to find it.

My first year away at college, I saw a flyer for a feminist erotica film festival, hosted by a local sex toy store. I was too embarrassed to go, but I went to the store to check out the winners, available to rent, a few weeks after they played.

I was astounded. Here was porn that was everything my first porn experience was not. Targeted for a female gaze, there were plots and characters. The actresses smiled, laughed, moaned convincingly. They were having fun, actually enjoying not only the acts but the exhibitionism of filming them.

Before long, I was hooked on porn. Any porn that wasn't designed especially for straight men. I fell in love a bit with campy gay porn, men on burly, toned men. I loved instructional pornographic videos- Bend Over Boyfriend, for example, that showed not only people pleasuring each other but also taught you how to do it for yourself. My girlfriends and I had whiskey and porn nights, drinking bourbon and watching lumberjacks get it on across felled logs. It was hilarious and arousing and fun, and we never felt tangentially exploited or endangered.

Soon I found the really kinky stuff. Latex bondage, medical play, domination and submission. The really strange fetishes, Star Trek parodies and Clown Porn. Here were people not just having sex on camera, but having fun having sex on camera. Porn opened my eyes to the myriad ways sex can be enjoyed between consenting people- the silliness, the intimacy, the experimentation, the raunchiness.

It wasn't until I was in a serious, committed relationship with the man I'd go on to marry that I became comfortable watching porn with a sexual partner. We could watch silly porn together, as I had with my girlfriends, but afterward, we could get naked and laugh our way through our own versions of the ridiculous dialog and enjoy real-life versions of the sexual play. We watched hardcore kink porn together, to learn about new possibilities and to find out what unexplored sexual opportunities excited us. We watched the spectacular homemade porn in Dan Savage's Hump Fest, which celebrates the amazing diversity of human sexual enjoyment. And we watched explicitly feminist porn together, female gaze oriented filmmaking that focuses more on how sex feels than how a hairless vulva is framed for optimal penetration footage.

I love porn, good porn. I'm versed enough in it to know the difference now between exploitation and celebration, and that difference is an entire universe. One educates. The other lies.

So bring on the celebratory dirty movies. I'll still bring the whiskey.

 


 

Read more about healthy sexual exploration here: The Moment I Knew I Was Bisexual

Read my most recent post here: In Memoriam

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Filed under: Happiness, Humor, Life, Love

Tags: Feminism, Happiness, Humor, LGBTQ, Love

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