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The Feminist Pornographer

Tristan Taormino, editor of a new book on X-rated activism, says it's time to find a middle ground in the porn wars.

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My last question: Do you ever get tired of feminist debates over porn? These conversations have been raging for forever, do you feel like we’re getting anywhere?

Oh, we’re getting somewhere. We’re for sure getting somewhere. I feel like what’s happening right now is so inspiring: There are more scholars and academics than ever before studying and theorizing about porn. There are more feminist pornographers, feminist-identified performers, there are more women in positions of power in porn than ever before. That part for me is really exciting. I also feel like, for the women who laid the groundwork for this — Annie Sprinkle, Deborah Sundahl, Susie Bright, Carol Queen, Betty Dodson, some of whom are in this book — the payoff is beginning to really show itself. The work that they did so early on really paved the way for the work that I and others are doing now.

In many ways, it feels annoying that we have to rehash some of the stuff from the sex wars of the ’80s and ’90s, but I don’t feel like we’re stuck there. I feel a real sense of momentum, and I feel finally like there is a loud response to the resurgence of anti-porn feminists like Gale Dines. Every day, someone writes to me and says, “OK, I just found out there’s this thing called feminist porn.” That’s super-exciting because I feel like it shifts the dialogue; the next time that a friend of that person says, “God I hate porn,” they can turn to them and say, “Have you seen all the porn that’s out there? Because I don’t know if you have, and there are alternatives.” That, to me, means there’s been progress and that we can shift the way that people think about porn — the way that people make it, the way that people consume it, and the way that people relate to it.



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

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