Feminist Porn and the Myth of the Wicked Woman

Discovering my newfound feminist identity and exploring the connection between sexism and porn.
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“What’s the difference between a yacht and a hard-on? I don’t have a yacht right now!”

I warmed up the Harvard kids at my talk last week with a dirty joke that a friend told me. Standing at the podium in front of a lecture hall filled with students and staff, I felt confident and strong. I remembered how I bombed my oral argument in law school and how one of the judges lambasted me, but on Monday of last week, my fear of public speaking had vanished.

While researching my talk, I discovered something new about myself: I am a feminist to the core.

Achieving New Focus

Structuring the discussion brought a sharp focus to my thoughts and opinions regarding myself, my cultural background, and my feelings toward sex. One point that stood out for me was the myth of the “wicked woman“. There is a passage in Ecclesiasticus 25:24 (in the Biblical Apocrypha) that says, “From a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die.” Not a great start for gender equality.

Women receive many mixed messages about sex: Sex is evil. Sex is good inside a marriage… to a man. Don’t show your body or men are more likely to sexually harass and abuse you. If you like sex, you are a slut. If you don’t like sex, you are frigid and cold.

It’s a Ridiculous Double Standard

As I’ve said before, the absurdity of it all is that sex is an inextricable part of life, and the more we fight against that fact, the more we punish ourselves. The punishment is levied particularly harshly against women, but it is also borne by anyone who does not have a traditional relationship — in other words, us gay folks.

So, what is the connection between sexism and porn? I believe that because the myth of the “wicked woman” is so pervasive, any woman who chooses to express her sexuality openly is called out and criticized. I know the anti-porn feminists disagree with me and mostly believe that porn is degrading to women, because in their estimation porn reduces women to basic pleasure tools for male fantasies.

But What if Feminist Porn is Actually Sexual Empowerment?

What if a feminist wants to be debased, dominated, and disrespected? What if she’s turned on by that? Is it wrong? Shouldn’t she be allowed to express her sexuality without judgement?

Certainly I don’t have all the answers, and I can tell you honestly that I’m constantly thinking about these topics, editing my boundaries, and changing my schema.

Last weekend my company was honored with a Feminist Porn Award, a back-to-back win for us in the same category from last year. What makes feminist porn different, I think, is a commitment to ethical standards. I collaborate with my stars to make sure that they feel empowered by the process. Ultimately, I make sure that they have a say in whom they have sex with and what kind of sex they want to have. I don’t want to work with people who are trying to make a quick buck by screwing onscreen. Gay-for-pay: no way. Thrill seekers don’t interest me. I cast fearless women and queer people who enjoy sex and want to share that passion with an audience.

Do I need to advertise on the box cover that I’m making ethical porn? Probably not. In fact, I think it’s better that I slip in the message between the lines of my glossy, glamorous scenes. By doing so, I’m able to expose a wider audience to new ideas.

Let’s call it subliminal feminism.

Originally published by the Huffington Post on Apr 27, 2012

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