Jul 192014
 
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After Pornified – How Women Are Transforming Pornography and Why It Really Matters

A Book Review, by Lady Cheeky: Originally published on EvolvedWorld.com

What do you think about when you hear the word “pornography”?  In the United States at least, that word usually conjures up images of brightly tanned, women on their knees and overly built men with perma-erections in various states of orgasmic euphoria.  Pornography has classically been made by and for a male consumer base summarily ignoring the female audience that was always assumed to not be interested in sexually based entertainment. It’s interesting to note though, that 40 million Americans visit porn sites regularly and 1 in 3 of those viewers are women, (probably more if you figure that a lot of women would be too shy to admit to it).  However, with the ever-increasing demographic of women who enjoy porn on a regular basis this old-fashioned image may need to make way for a new paradigm of pornography, Feminist or “Re-visioned” Porn.

In the new book AfterPornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters (from Zer0 Books) by Anne G. Sabo, Ph.D., Ms. Sabo catalogs  and explains the history and the need for Feminist Porn.

the great thing about porn affecting us is that it can actually have a good effect on us.  Re-visioned and transformed feminist porn proves my point.  Re-visioned porn can change the way we think about and practice sex in positive ways, just as mainstream porn has affected the way we picture and practice sex in negative ways”.

By highlighting and examining revolutionary feminist porn filmmakers and their work, Ms. Sabo delineates how each artist brings their unique vision and aesthetic to their films and how that impacts the world of erotic filmmaking geared toward women.  She also speaks with these illustrious filmmakers, Candida Royalle, Erika Lust and Lisbeth Lyngoft to name a few and interviews them about their vision and their process. Ms. Royalle, for example, outlines (with great sub-categories) two essential elements one must incorporate in a good feminist sex flick:

1. High cinematic production value and

2. Progressive sexual-political commitment.

Ms. Lyngoft also throws her hat in the ring with her must have list, one of which is “To create a powerful female character who is determined and who goes with her desires”. This seems to be the main current that runs through the feminist porn genre; giving the female lead agency over her own body and desires.

Breaking down scenes from classic feminist porn films and then dissecting why they change the landscape of the pornographic film business is a unique and fascinating aspect of Ms. Sabo’s book. It’s almost as if the reader is being schooled in sexuality & feminist theory and practice by an intelligent and noted scholar. In fact, Ms. Sabo is an academic-cum-public educator who has researched feminist pornography for over a decade and is a noted expert in her field. The reader benefits from her expertise by covering topics that range from pushing the limits with progressive porn to  music video porn all written with intelligence and aplomb. As a fantastic plus, Ms. Sabo finishes off her book with a healthy appendix of filmmakers, websites, women-oriented sex shops, and progressive sex film awards and festivals to further quell your new lust for more feminist porn.

 

Ms. Sabo has done her research and it shows in this illuminating and detailed treatise on the re-visioned/feminist porn movement. This book is a goldmine for all sex-positive women and men who at least believe that there is nothing wrong with porn that a little balance can’t fix or even the steadfast feminist who wants to broaden his/her knowledge base on the issues of sexual agency of women in adult film. The casual reader will also find something to take away from this book, a new respect for the women of porn and a newly minted image when they next hear the word “pornography” brought up in conversation.

After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography and Why It Really Matters (from Zer0 Books): is available on AMAZON and AMAZON UK

 

 

Oct 122013
 

tumblr_ludca9CUwQ1r2t9z1o1_500 Originally published on gasm.org on October 11, 2013

At the end of her sexless marriage, Elle Chase went on a journey to seek the one thing she never had. This is the story of what she found.

Recently, after turning 40 and leaving a sexless marriage, I had come to the sobering realization I had never experienced “passion.” In fact, I had never identified myself as a sexual being at all and furthermore, never had pleasurable sex. I ruminated over this discovery and stunned, thought “how is it possible to reach my fortieth year never enjoying sex?” The thought was staggering, “This can’t go on” I said with determination, and made it my number one goal to achieve a fully realized and satisfied sex life … fast.

But what’s a middle-aged woman to do? I was well past the age when most women experiment, I hadn’t dated in ten years and to be honest, “dating” wasn’t interesting to me … unbridled, sweaty, sticky, lustful sex was. I was overwhelmed with what it would take to reach my goal. Where do I even start? I’m not even certain what turns me on!

Thinking back to my teenage years, I remembered that the soft-core porn of the 80’s gave me a certain tickle down-under and that I had come many times to the beautiful works of Anais Nin. The boys of that time watched porn, but these venues were socially acceptable in my circle and readily discussed with my girlfriends. But, right now my sexual thirst was so great I knew these past favorites wouldn’t satisfy. I was parched after years in the desert. I needed to take out the big guns. So, I took the leap. Contrite, I logged online and looked for a tall glass of water.

The World Wide Web offered many choices; gonzo porn, amateur porn … Click HERE to go to GASM.ORG to read the rest

May 272013
 

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Sex educators, writers and porn stars share their favorite adult Tumblrs  

WebBY   Originally published on Salon.com, SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2013  

Earlier this week, in light of worries that Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr would mean an end to porn on the micro-blogging platform, I reviewed its most popular adult blogs. I slogged through hours of explicit material — all for you. But then, the sophisticated porn-oisseurs among you were like: Who needs this plebe porn? Show us the best!

Alright, I hear you. But there is only so much of the Internet — even the pornographic Tumblr Internet — that one woman can cover, so I called in some expert help from porn stars, journalists and sexperts. The result is a wildly eclectic bunch of blogs featuring everything from porn superstar Stoya to the indifferent cats of amateur porn. There is something in here for everyone — even if you don’t consider yourself a pornophile.

Lady Cheeky

This blog brands itself as “a curated sensual images site that focuses on sensuality, positive body image, sexual pleasure and beautiful photos depicting desire and passion.” Its tagline: “smart is sexy.” Michael Thomsen, a sex writer, recommends it because of “the looping GIFs of isolated gestures during sex,” he says, “like a stroke of the hand just playing into infinity, or else like pulling down someone’s underwear while their hips rise in anticipation.” It’s this “pretty straightforward, vanilla stuff that often gets rushed over in long-form porn but [which] captures a little more honest and relatable part of sex than just fuck videos,” he says. That’s the magic of GIFs, Thomsen argues: “[They're] the perfect format for getting around the paradox of needing sex on film to be maximally visual, which also makes it maximally unnatural and mechanistic.”

Read the rest >> HERE

May 272013
 

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Sex educators, writers and porn stars share their favorite adult Tumblrs  

WebBY   Originally published on Salon.com, SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2013  

Earlier this week, in light of worries that Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr would mean an end to porn on the micro-blogging platform, I reviewed its most popular adult blogs. I slogged through hours of explicit material — all for you. But then, the sophisticated porn-oisseurs among you were like: Who needs this plebe porn? Show us the best!

Alright, I hear you. But there is only so much of the Internet — even the pornographic Tumblr Internet — that one woman can cover, so I called in some expert help from porn stars, journalists and sexperts. The result is a wildly eclectic bunch of blogs featuring everything from porn superstar Stoya to the indifferent cats of amateur porn. There is something in here for everyone — even if you don’t consider yourself a pornophile.

Lady Cheeky

This blog brands itself as “a curated sensual images site that focuses on sensuality, positive body image, sexual pleasure and beautiful photos depicting desire and passion.” Its tagline: “smart is sexy.” Michael Thomsen, a sex writer, recommends it because of “the looping GIFs of isolated gestures during sex,” he says, “like a stroke of the hand just playing into infinity, or else like pulling down someone’s underwear while their hips rise in anticipation.” It’s this “pretty straightforward, vanilla stuff that often gets rushed over in long-form porn but [which] captures a little more honest and relatable part of sex than just fuck videos,” he says. That’s the magic of GIFs, Thomsen argues: “[They're] the perfect format for getting around the paradox of needing sex on film to be maximally visual, which also makes it maximally unnatural and mechanistic.”

Read the rest >> HERE

Jan 222013
 
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I posted this picture recently on my blog, Lady Cheeky (see below) . Underneath the photo I typed the word “Gorgeous.” When I blog my photos, I do it rather quickly as I only blog the images I, personally think are sexy. I don’t always comment on photos I post, but when I do it’s because a word or a feeling comes to mind and I add the comment as effortlessly as I would if I were having conversation.

On this day, again without thinking, I posted the comment “GORGEOUS” on this sensual photo of a very zaftig woman laying on her side with a naked man behind her. I thought the image was beautiful and the body, with all it’s texture and curves was gorgeous. Even though my porn site is body-positive, I still get the regular lookie-loos that just want to see the graphic images. That’s fine, I like them too. To each his/her own. But when comments attacking someone’s size, either skinny or large, deluge my in-box, it always makes me roll my eyes and sigh. Today wasn’t the first time I received un-kind words regarding a photo I posted. But today I recognized a change in how I see them.

When I’ve receive these blistering notes, I don’t get angry, I don’t get offended, I don’t get depressed or antagonistic or vindictive. I never feel attacked, less-than or judged. And because I also share some of the characteristics of the picture I posted, I could sit here in self-hate and use the rapacious insults to validate all that I think is wrong with me.  In fact, in the past I would have. But instead, I feel like a climber that has reached the top of a small but difficult mountain, looking out to azure skies and tree-topped valleys upon the vast landscape which holds the secret of my next trek.

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Today, when I see these comments in my in-box I feel validated and liberated and secure because I know that I’ve overcome thinking of my round, soft and curvy body as less desirable, less sensual and less important than the average-sized women I used to compare myself to. I feel free from the drama in my head of constantly worrying if my lover will walk out the door when he sees my stomach … naked without the Spanx binding it in. Feeling confident that I am attractive because I feel sexy in my own skin “knowing” of who I am as a woman is the payoff of years and years of hard inner and practical work.

Today, when I post a gorgeous photo of a nude woman, laid out in all her vulnerable, sexy nakedness … a woman who resembles me much more than a traditionally sized woman, I no longer take in the “fatty” or the “whale” or “the lazy whore needs to go to the gym” comments because for every nasty comment gets lodged at me for what I personally think is gorgeous, I get a comment like this: “That picture that you said “Gorgeous” I have almost the same body as her. It made me smile.”

THAT made ME smile and made my day. It reminded me of a quote by Mary VonEbner-Eschenbach: “In youth we learn; In age we understand.”  Today in my Oprah “Aha moment” I see that no matter how small your contribution is to pursue a purpose you believe in (for me, my little blog) you still have the capacity to make a stranger smile and even potentially piss-off the ignorant at the same time. And that makes my younger-self feel weightless and my present self feel very, very grateful for the capacity to finally understand.

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 092012
 

Originally published on his site Sexual Intelligence on 11/30/12

Even if you don’t watch porn—even if you think porn should be illegal—you still get the benefits of the porn industry’s fight to safeguard your freedoms as an American. And this goes way beyond your right to watch porn, to areas of privacy, capricious taxation, and elsewhere.

Here’s the latest.

Say you produce adult porn films for a living (go with me on this). You, the government, and society all agree that only adults should act in such films. And in fact, the adult film industry has an amazing record of accidentally employing almost no underage actors/actresses girls in the last 30 years—a far better record than the number of oil spills, crashes, or explosions in any other industry.

So it’s illegal for underage people to act in adult films. No problem. The government goes a step further, and requires age documentation of every participant in adult films. You must prove you’re an adult. No problem.

One day you decide to make a film featuring only 50-year-olds. All participants must prove they’re adults, and they do. But the government has this law (called “2257”) about record-keeping, unique to the adult film industry. They can come into your office unannounced, with no warrant or even probable cause, asking for the IDs of the 50-year-olds in the film; if you don’t have them handy right there, you can be prosecuted and sent to jail. You can go to jail not because you have underage actors in your film, but because you can’t prove that three 50-year-olds are over 18.

This law isn’t keeping underage talent out of films—because they haven’t been in commercial films to begin with. It’s simple harassment of a legal industry, which no other industry has to suffer. It’s an unconstitutional invasion of privacy—government agents coming into your premises unannounced not because they have a reasonable cause, but because the law allows them.

So here’s the big news—the porn industry has challenged this law, the government asked the case to be dismissed, and a federal judge refused.

In this case, the porn industry is protecting all Americans’ rights—to be, as the Fourth Amendment says, “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Here are just three other ways (there are many others) the porn industry protects your rights, whether you watch porn or not:

* Fighting arbitrary zoning: Cities and counties around the country try to prevent adult bookstores from opening by inventing discriminatory zoning rules—which are also used to prevent swing clubs, education centers, and religious centers from opening.

* Fighting taxes based on content: Several states now tax strip clubs more than other forms of live entertainment. If they can do this, they can levy extra taxes on any form of communication they want to discourage (such as violent video games or religious newspapers).

* Fighting government agencies advancing a moral agenda: Even though there is no HIV problem in the adult film industry (you’re safer sleeping with a porn actress/actor than a stranger you meet in a bar), Los Angeles County plans to require condoms and dental dams on all porn shoots. If they can do this, they can supervise any legal activity of which they disapprove, such as fashion shows, church bake sales, and campus protests.

So whether you watch porn or not, whether you think porn is evil or not—this holiday season, give thanks that, in addition to making films, porn producers are protecting your rights.

 

Dr. Marty Klein is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Sex Therapist, and sociologist with a special interest in public policy and sexuality. He has written 6 books and over 100 articles about sexuality. Each year he trains thousands of professionals in North America and abroad in clinical skills, human sexuality, and policy issues.

Marty sees men, women, and couples in his Palo Alto office for psychotherapy, couples counseling, and sex therapy. For an appointment, write Klein AT SexEd.org or call 650/773-2425.

Each month Marty publishes the electronic newsletter Sexual Intelligence,TMwhich examines the sexual implications of current events, politics, technology, popular culture, and the media.

For an archive of his original articles, lots of Q/A about sexuality, and other material, see www.SexEd.org.

Marty’s current award-winning book is America’s War On Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, & Liberty.

Dec 012012
 
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A report finds adult actresses are happier than the rest of us — and that being naked might lead to self-esteem

Originally published on SALON.COM – 11/27/12

A common stereotype of a female porn star is an insecure, sexually abused, mentally ill and/or drug-addled woman. It’s one supported by anecdotes (most memorably by Linda Lovelace’s harrowing autobiography) and rhetoric (the feminist scholar Catharine MacKinnon went so far as to claim that all porn actresses were sexually abused as children). But as for actual research? Eh, not so much.

Now, a new study claims to have debunked this truism, which is known as the “damaged goods hypothesis.”

Some performers were amused by the news. “As a happy, healthy female porn performer, my reaction is: thanks, science, thanks so much for proving I am real,” says writer and porn performer Lorelei Lee in an email.

On a similar note, porn actress Dylan Ryan tells me, “It’s about time that research catches up to the realities for a great many women who perform in porn,” she says in an email. “It’s important to me as a performer that the conversation evolve and develop to make space for the (as in any community and population) diversity of experiences, personalities and lifestyles of porn performers.”

Adult actress and director Kimberly Kane took a different tack. “I’ve found that everyone is damaged no matter what line of work they’re in,” she says.

Researchers compared self-reports from a group of nearly 200 porn actresses to those of women outside the industry who were similar in age, ethnicity and marital status. Not only did the report show no higher incidence of child sexual abuse or psychological problems among female performers, but it actually found that pornsters had higher levels of self-esteem and sexual satisfaction.

It’s true, however, that porn actresses are more likely to have ever tried a range of drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, according to the study. But as for recent drug use, performers were more frequent users only when it came to that devastating drug known as … marijuana.

Also of note in the study’s findings: Female performers were more likely to identify as bisexual, had sex at earlier ages, had more sexual partners and were more likely to be worried about STDs (although, due to mandated industry testing, they are perhaps more likely to know their status than the general populace).

The study, authored in part by Sharon Mitchell, a former porn performer and founder of the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, engages in plenty of speculation about what might account for these various differences — for example, in explaining the higher incidence of bisexuality, researchers suggest that “the adult entertainment industry acts as a facilitator of sexual fluidity by providing a supportive culture of same-gender sexual interactions and offers financial rewards for engaging in those behaviors.”

But the most fascinating hypothesis — and let’s remember, it’s just that — is that “being able to be completely naked in front of others” may be associated with higher self-esteem. (The paper cites another study finding that topless women at a beach reported higher self-esteem than those covered up.)

“I think that the misconception of porn performers as ‘damaged goods’ stems from a misconception that only women who have little respect for their body would take place in sexual acts in front of the camera,” says Madison Young, a porn actress, artist and self-described “sexual revolutionary.” “However, women who love their bodies, who are confident in themselves, many who have degrees and other careers, choose to be a part of the authentic documentation of pleasure.” They aren’t the only ones who choose to participate, of course, but that range does exists. “Pornography and the exploration of sexuality on film is a large and diverse realm and those that perform and work in the world of pornography are diverse as well,” she says.

And understanding that diversity means continuing to study it.

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon.
Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter.

 

RELATED: 

(Photo: Spanish News)

Nov 122012
 
Candida_mainOriginally published by The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) on 11/11/12

Does Pornography Deserve it’s Bad Rap?:

Watching pornography is not inherently harmful to men or women. But I would offer some caveats. There are people who probably shouldn’t view porn, like those with poor body image or those who have been sexually victimized. Depending on your choice in viewing, you can develop unrealistic expectations about sex or what people like or how you’ll be expected to “perform.” And watching with someone requires true consent.

When none of these red flags are up, pornography can certainly have benefits. Counselors sometimes suggest it to help people become comfortable with a particular fantasy they or their partner may have. Pornography can reboot a couple’s sex life. It can give you ideas, or help you get in touch with what turns you on.

Pornography can reboot a couple’s sex life. It can give you ideas, or help you get in touch with what turns you on.

Porn can deliver you there at best, or disgust you at worst. It all depends on what you choose to watch. With the availability of porn online, it’s possible to sample enough porn quickly that you don’t have to find yourself watching wall-to-wall hard-core sex if it’s plot driven erotica that appeals to you. You’re only a victim of bad porn if you let yourself be.

And a word about sex or porn addiction. I don’t believe in it. Unlike a chemical substance, like opiates, you can’t become “addicted” to sex or porn; you can become a compulsive viewer. In this case, it’s not the porn that’s the problem; it’s the compulsive personality. If it weren’t porn being used to act out one’s compulsive nature, it might be food or some other behavior.

As for whether it’s harmful or beneficial to the performers, let’s take women first. There are some who choose to perform because they like sex a lot and they consider it a great way to earn a living. Then there are those who are drawn to porn as a way of acting out subconscious psychological issues – looking for daddy’s love or punishment for being a bad girl. For many, it’s probably a little of each. Even women with the best mental health will face some downsides from this work. Our culture consumes porn at record numbers, but the women who perform are still judged harshly.

I’m not sure the male performers get out completely unscathed either. While they may not be judged as harshly as the women, ultimately they’re viewed as freaks who make their living with their anatomy. John Holmes’s fate is the ultimate cautionary tale.

Perhaps if we weren’t still so consumed with guilt and shame about sex, neither watching nor performing in these films would carry the weight it does. But then, perhaps we wouldn’t be so interested in them, either. If the fruit were not forbidden, would anyone care to take a bite?

Candida Royalle

Twitter: @CandidaRoyalle   Web: www.candidaroyalle.com  Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/candida.royalle?fref=ts

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