Feminist Porn & Scaly Llamas

No really, stick with me. A former student sent me this short interview with Tristan Taormino about feminist porn and was surprised to hear that 1 in 3 porn viewers are women. Surprised, because that’s an amazingly high percentage, & surprising, because as a feminist who has always been pro porn, that seems like a significant shift in the sexual/cultural landscape. But you can’t underestimate ease of access and privacy, and I suspect that being able to view porn on a home computer or mobile device makes it easy enough that women – who might otherwise not want to go to the kinds of places you have traditionally been able to see or buy porn – has made a huge change in things, much as VCRs did back in the day.

As a result: feminist porn, where labor is treated fairly (yes, labor – sex work IS work) and where maybe we need to rewrite the story.

Almost simultaneously, a friend sent me this link to female spec fic writer Kameron Hurley talking about what it’s like to write female characters, and especially why she writes female characters who are soldiers and warriors. And while I think her initial example – of those scaly llamas – confuses the subject a bit, she’s basically saying that we see writers write women as the women who have always been written and that those of us who are women even participate in this because This Is How Women Are Written. If you write them any other way, there will be objections, right? We must believe it is exceptional and rare for women to be in power, or violent, because that is not the story about women that has been told time and time again.

This interview and this blog post intersect in a cool way, no? If you always present women (and men, for that matter) as the same kind of sexual beings they have always been in porn, you get the same porn. But what happens when women are portrayed as dominant, as multiply orgasmic, as physically strong? What happens when men care for or love deeply the women they have sex with, and that is apparent in porn? What if men are shown to forego or postpone their own desire in order to make sure the woman is satisfied? What happens?

Well, you can watch feminist porn and see for yourself that llamas aren’t scaly. That’s what happens. Maybe, in fact, we’ll get around to seeing human sexuality &desire on screen that’s far more what we know sex to be.

Helen Boyd

is the author of My Husband Betty and She's Not the Man I Married.

3 Comments

  1. I just love this article. I agree that we need to change the matrix in which women are viewed. Sometimes that takes a shocking turn like showing women as capable of things they are not normally identified with. This includes all of what you mentioned, such as violence, dominance, power and a strong sense of our sexual selves. In other words, complete human beings who do not need a man to define them Kudos for your great words!

  2. Thank you for this. I have spent a delightful evening reading Hurley’s piece, enjoying the art, and following the links therein. I love good rants, and there are a bunch. I had not known about Lyudmila Pavlichenko. Awesome.

    Grace

  3. Thanks for posting this, Helen. It is almost a truism, and yet people keep forgetting it: “Art”—the visual arts and literature—condition not just how, but what people think they see. Or as Wilde put it more amusingly: “Nature imitates Art.” How could it be otherwise? The one is vision, the other is language. We see in images, we think and reason in language. What we call “Art” is normally the most powerful, the most expert, the most effective realizations of self-expression—through words and through images. But it takes something like Hurley’s article to shake us out of our preconceptions—clichés, really—and see things with fresh eyes. A good piece, a necessary piece! Even if I also found scaly llamas less than ideal as her chosen metaphor.

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