Published on February 18, 2014 | by Hannah Lockley0
The changing face of porn
When it comes to porn, women have plenty of different opinions.
Whether you love it, hate it or are somewhere in-between there’s one thing that’s certain; there is a whole new wave of porn being created to entice a wider female audience.
Porn for women is hardly breaking news.
Type those three little words into any search engine and you’re instantly presented with links to female friendly porn sites.
But one thing that is important to realise is the hype, or lack thereof, surrounding it all.
Porn is undoubtedly still seen as part of a man’s world in which women are rarely treated as equals, however women’s pornography is hoping to challenge these old-fashioned views where sex is something to be obtained by men from women.
Feminism and pornography are two words and worlds that have never been happy bedfellows, but there are people out there who want to change this.
Justin Ribeiro dos Santos, owner and producer of one of the UK’s major adult film companies, Joybear, says he makes porn specifically for women because “women prefer to watch something that’s been made with a bit of care and attention.”
Justin says that creating porn specifically aimed at women and the development of Joybear happened naturally: “It was never really a conscious decision to single out women as a target market. Joybear was born out of my love of film, interest in pornography and the desire to blend the two.
“There are women out there who have never been exposed to films like ours and who understandably have a skewed perception of pornography.
“Deep down they might be searching for something but have struggled to find it. I would like our films to be made available to this cross section who might actually come to appreciate porn as part of a healthy sex life.”
“Sex can be funny, exploratory and isn’t always perfect. We make sure these moments find their way into our movies.” Justin Ribeiro dos Santos
Tired of the semantics of mainstream porn, the south London based producer enjoys making adult films with a bit more “depth and credibility,” and he explains that he enjoys the challenge of producing films that are much more natural and realistic: “We try and strip away the mask many performers subconsciously hide behind.”
So what does women’s porn consist of?
Of course, no two women’s needs are the same, and what might work for one is the complete opposite to another.
These are just a few of the politics Justin has to bear in mind before he creates a story with his team: “I don’t want to pigeon-hole women. What you’re into on a Monday might vary hugely from your needs late on a Friday night. I prefer to think in general terms and also to use a bit of common sense (e.g. more natural sex, women in control, everyday characters and not hours of pounding anal intercourse).
“Sex can be funny, exploratory and isn’t always perfect. We make sure these moments find their way into our movies.”
People may ask however, why does there have to be porn made specifically for women? Can’t women enjoy ‘normal’ porn just as much as men do?
Justin admits that although he tries to cater to everyone’s needs, he still has a female audience who enjoy hardcore porn as much as men: “It never fails to amaze me when I discover more women who actually prefer the ‘really hard’ stuff.”
If women’s porn sounds relatively wholesome to you, then think again.
Some porn that’s considered feminist depicts women who are bound while having sex that looks painful, or women who are suspended form the ceiling while men penetrate them. Is this really feminist?
A student from Central Saint Martins, who only called herself Abbey, says she believes what makes these types of films ‘feminist’ isn’t just that they feature performers of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and sexual orientations, but that the performers engage in sexual behaviour they enjoy.
“As long as these women are enjoying what they’re doing and they have a say in the direction of the film, then I think it can be classed as feminist,” she told ALN.
Of course, Justin isn’t the only producer doing it for the ladies; there are also women out there making films for other women.
There are a number of female friendly porn sites where this breed of adult film-makers are tired of criticising porn for not offering an alternative, and are making the porn films they want to watch.
These films don’t include naughty schoolgirls, nurses or desperate housewives; nor do they include multi-millionaires drinking cognac by the pool, pimps or super-sized sex machines.
These women, as film-makers and consumers, place themselves far away from mainstream porn.
Anna Arrowsmith, who studied film at Central Saint Martins back in 1998, turned to making independent porn for women once she graduated.
Since then she has won many awards, including indie Porn Pioneer at the International Feminist Porn Awards and best director for two years in the UK.
Writing in The Guardian in 2010, Anna spoke out about the driving force for her work: “I have fought long and hard for women’s right to sexual expression and consumption, as well as for freedom of speech.”
Anna and Justin make up a small fraction of filmmakers out there who want to see a change in porn; they do this because they chose it, and not because they do not have other options.
They pay particular attention to aesthetics, music, locations, actors and stories. And most importantly, they think about what women need to enjoy porn.
Feminist porn is still small but it is a growing segment of a huge porn industry.
The online market is still unsettled and one thing we need to all overcome together as an industry is making the Internet a safer place.” Justin Ribeiro dos Santos
When I asked Justin about his thoughts on the industry at present, he suggested that there have been a lot of changes, but of course there is still definite room for improvement: “I think the industry has changed a lot in the decade that we’ve been operating in it. It’s an industry that used to be run by a select few but is now hugely fragmented.
“This dividing up has presented new ways of working and in the process brought in a plethora of new customers, such as women. The online market is still unsettled and one thing we need to all overcome together as an industry is making the Internet a safer place.”
In 2008 Alison Lee, a writer/manager/buyer and blogger for Good For Her – a feminist, sex-positive sex store in Toronto, Canada – created the Feminist Porn Awards which seek to celebrate erotic media made by and for women and marginalised communities.
The criterion to be considered for an award demonstrates the expanse of film categories on offer for women and feminists alike.
My particular favourite being that the film, short or website shows expansion of sexual representation on film and challenges stereotypes that includes anti-racist or anti-oppression framework throughout the production.
It is a refreshing idea that takes pornography into whole new realms of film-making.
According to the Family Safe Media website, one in three visitors to adult sites are women, which proves that when it comes to pornography, it is no longer just a man’s world.
With the rise in female porn producers, this high percentage of women sourcing adult films are being catered to like never before, but there is still a long way to go before the porn industry will can fully display and encourage equality of the sexes.
For more information about Joybear, visit: www.joybear.com