Can porn empower women?

Can Porn be Empowering to Women?

The debate ‘Can Porn be Empowering to Women’ hosted by BBC Woman’s hour at WOW festival on Sunday, made us shout and want to shake our radios. Here’s where we stand:

Can Porn Empower Women? : Hell Yes!

Does Porn Empower Women; As it stands No!

But first lets talk about censorship

You can’t have a any meaningful debate about porn without talking about censorship and agreeing, as a society, where we stand on it.

Just like capital punishment. Some people do despicable things to other people and children.  Horrific crimes. Of course it’s a human reaction to feel anger and revenge – an overwhelming desire to ‘string them up’ – but we stand against against capital punishment, as a mark of a civilized society.

Censorship is the same deal. Do we believe in censorship or no? Surely freedom of speech and expression at the core of our civilized society too?

Everybody is horrified about children and young people’s access to porn and how this maybe (mis) shaping their view on sex.  But is a censored society one you want your children to grow up in?  Bottom-line: There are ‘adult’ filtering tools available to every parent and it is their responsibility to use it them. Censorship should be something you are given your right opt into, never something controlled by a powerful outsider, otherwise it’s a very dangerous precedent.

Unfortunately the panic and backlash against porn is creating worrying,  short-sighted, knee-jerk reactions…by our Government …by Google (which is fast turning into the Genghis Kahn cum Mary Whitehouse of the search engine world) and services such as Open DNS, a web filtering, used by many public area internet providers , where sites are defined, and thus limited from view, by a ‘community’ of net-workers, often based on 1 vote!

With handles such as ‘Fatts’ and ‘King’ we suspect these people sit in darkened bedrooms, sweating slightly as they wield huge power over what you can see…

This is leading to strange, underhand, sexist and information-barring  censorship, that most peeps are unaware of.

When we came to illustrate the blog side of our new website, we learnt a lot about how the www defines ‘nudity’ and ‘pornography’ and we disagree strong with it

Definition of Nudity

Sites that provide images or representations of nudity’

Hang on a minute? What about Art? (yes, there have been Art Galleries’ whom ‘Fatts’ & ‘King’ have decided fall within the nudity category and thus you must be protected from seeing it, if you’re in a public place).

Definition of Pornography:

Anything relating to pornography, including mild depiction, soft pornography or hard-core pornography’

Despite TOTAL over-use of the word ‘pornography’ there’s no actual definition of what is and what the hell is the difference between  ‘mild’ ‘soft’ or ‘hard-core’ pornography?

What we do know is that a woman can be depicted in the most passive, school-girl, I’m-giving -a-blow-job -with-my-finger-pose, so long as she has a bra on,..

But if she’s strong (empowered?) and naked, she is ‘pornography’.

This may be ‘Fatts & King’s’ (warped) definition but it certainly isn’t ours (if it’s not yours either, challenge them here).

Google has recently essentially banned all ‘adult’ blogs from view on blogger.com. They categorise LGBQT diaries as ‘adult’

Do you want to live in a society where a young lesbian feels isolated and alone ( again?) When we only just created a society where she felt free (empowered?)…

Sexual definitions are confused, perverse & sexist

We know from being taken to court way back in 1993 (for running an unlicensed sex shop) that definitions around sex are perverse.

A sexual article, for instance, under British law is ‘anything that encourages or stimulates sexual activity…or the force and restraint associated with it’ Tssk! Only in UK could such a specific sexual speciality such as BDSM be written into such a general legal definition. The law gets itself  tied up in knots.

Definitions are not only dizzyingly confused, they are also downright sexist. Showers of sperm are fine, but depictions of female ejaculation in British-made porn are now banned (again, after a short-lived outing after having being challenged and won in 2009 by Anna Span).

So what this actually tells us is that it’s fine for a woman to be depicted as a passive vessel, but not as a sexually or orgasmically-active individual. Not as an empowered women…

Ultimately what this says ‘porn is for men, not for women’  And equally that men somehow must collude with this view.

Sexual surveys always reveal that pleasing his woman  is at the top of the majority of men’s sexual tick list. We don’t believe this men paying lip service to female pleasure. We think it’s true.

The mainstream porn industry doesn’t depict real human sexuality. This is true. Nor does it depict many people’s fantasy. Its more like a car-crash that counts on rubbernecking to make the view counts, which in turn makes the advertising revenue.

It’s not an industry that empowers women by paying them more. It pays on ‘arduousness of task’ and because, put bluntly, women have more holes to fill, they are often paid more.

So, if we’re going to be creating laws on porn, this is where we would start; A payment structure that equalised pay for any depiction of sexual activity – the same fee for a vanilla lesbian scene as for a triple penetration ‘gang rape’. This would soon put women in control of the kind of activity they are happy to act out.

And take the power out of an industry that now must rely on shock tactics to make money out of, with the advent of the free-to-view internet porn,  their previous multi-billion £/$ business.

Playing fantasy porn-world, we’d also like the playing fields evened, the goal-posts moved and just as in government, board-rooms, education (and actually pretty much everything else where women are under-represented or held back because of their gender) we’d like women to be in charge for a while. Just whilst the seismic change happens…

Because porn can be made that empowers female desire and pleasure. And this same  porn challenges the (quite frankly insulting!) narrowing of male sexuality to a one-dimensional plane.

We think a lot of women have a ‘problem’ with mainstream porn on a very deep-rooted level, that brings 3 things into play;

  • 1/5 women have been subject to sexual violence.  Whilst we’re not saying that porn and fantasy  can’t be enjoyed by survivors, it still a means there’s 20% of women for whom a dodgy porn scene can have a triggering effect. That’s the ‘official’ statistic but probably most ( if not all?) of us have found ourselves in a situation(s) during our sexual journey, where we’d like things to stop or at least slow down,  but haven’t felt empowered or given the skills to confidently say so.
  • Whether it’s hard-wired into our biology, or socialized from an early age, we’re sensitive to signals, empathic and protective. Whereas a man may take his mate’s convincing ‘I’m fine’ on face value, women are much more likely to say ‘I can tell your not!’ with our besties.  [lets be clear, before there’s an uproar; we’re not calling all men insensitive beasts and all women Mother Teresa, just  that millions of years where one of us kept the kids safe, whilst the other ventured forth for food probably has had an effect!)
  • Female sexual response is linked to what’s going on our heads. We find it much more difficult, than men, to switch off and get totally into our bodies. It could be as simple as ‘is that the kids home from school?’ or I’m taking too long to come’ to trip up desire or bring it to a resounding halt.

So, when it comes to porn,  our bodies may respond, but if we see even the smallest flinch or the teeniest nuance of panic, our brains kick in… We see or recognise a situation we’re not comfortable with, empathise and are turned off in our heads…

Often, unfortunately it isn’t even tiny signals we find ourselves alert to. Most sex in porn is fast, furious and hard. Clitorises are rubbed as if they deserve to be erased. For most women,  this is the porn equivalent of being kicked in the balls (there maybe a a porn-genre covering this, but we’re yet to find it!).

Porn doesn’t have to be all soft, loving with a nice story-line to make it female friendly!

This has been the problem with a lot of porn ‘made for women’. Just as it’s brother does for male sexuality, it reduces female sexuality to a single dimension.

Fact is, porn films would not be allowed to depict some of the sexual fantasies that women create in their heads…

Nancy Friday’s game-changing  My Secret Garden, is testament to just how explicit (and sometimes shocking!) female fantasy can be. One of the most liberating books you’ll every read, it’s also the one we recommend to women who find it hard to orgasm, as fantasy can be a real kick-starter.

The fact is that women DO want porn ( we’re asked for it all the time!)

Porn that values and  properly represents their sexuality.

With actors who know how to pleasure women, actresses who really, truly are into whatever they’re doing  and get off on it from producers who are passionate and uncompromising.

We think men would like that too…

Just as Sh! trail-blazed the way for women to explore and discover their individual sexuality, away from mainstream ideas of ‘sexiness’ and what it means to be a sexual women, so pioneering porn can and will be as equally empowering.

This kind of porn will allow women to explore their fantasies without flinching. Allow women to come out and say ‘ I am visual’ Allow women who find it tricky to orgasm, to come easier. Allow women to explore and discover more about their sexualities…

And if the generational split, that appeared to surface at the WOW debate, is true, it will allow older women to enjoy porn guilt-free and perhaps younger women a more multi-faceted representation of sex.

It simply needs visionaries to take on the monster and people WILL vote (albeit with their left hand!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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