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New Pornographers Claim Their Work Is Ethical, Feminist and 'Sex-Positive,' But Will It Sell?

Lesbian porn companies see an emerging business opportunity.
 
 
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The 8th annual Feminist Porn Awards, held in Toronto, April 4 to 6, were organized by Good for Her, a Toronto-based, women-orientated, sex paraphernalia store. Some 110 programs were submitted for such categories as Golden Beaver (Canadian content) and Smutty Schoolteacher (sex-ed).

When Carlyle Jansen started Good For Her in 1997, there were a very limited number of porn videos that appealed to her customers. “There was a narrow selection of videos, in particular those highlighting people of color, gays and lesbians, transsexuals and women with a variety of body types and desires," she recalls.

The Feminist Porn Awards (FPA) grew out of discussions among the company’s employees to host an event that would acknowledge and celebrate diverse ways to sexually represent people, particularly women. Jansen noted that her customers wanted porn they could identify with. “They wanted movies, high-quality productions,” she said, “that did not feel degrading, were not misogynistic and turned them on rather than off.”

The FPA was launched in 2006 and has grown ever since; it’s now a two-night event that includes a separate, more academic conference organized by activist and educator Tristan Taormino.

Jansen readily acknowledges that much of conventional porn is degrading toward women and that sex trafficking can happen in the industry, but she believes sweeping generalizations about the industry are unfounded. With feminist porn, which she says is a “small but growing market,” she notes that “women with larger bodies are not fetishized and people of color are not stereotyped.”

“The growth is due, in part, to the drop in the cost of production,” she says. High-performance cameras are more affordable, editing systems are cheaper and easier to use and online distribution is a game changer.”

She believes that feminist porn has an often-unacknowledged aspect: education. She notes that feminist porn shows viewers how to enhance their lovemaking, how to communicate in the moment and “how to put on a condom without breaking the flow.”

Jansen says that feminist porn is based on three key factors: choice, diversity and respect. “Choice,” she argues, “is about personal preference, which safe-sex practices are used, with whom they want to perform, and sometimes even the food on the set.”

“Diversity,” she points out, “is an acknowledgment that every female actor is not a skinny white woman and male actors are not only guys with rock-hard penises. It also expands the types of desires and expressions on film beyond the stereotypes.”

And respect, she adds, “includes how performers are paid, treated and performing what turns them on.” Together, these factors help define and illustrate an actor’s consent.

The feature-length and short-subject works shown during the Feminist Porn Awards illustrated the creative range of feminist porn. For example,  April Flores' World features Flores, a plus-size Latina porn star.  Krutch stars Mia Gimp, a disabled performer.

One of the big winners at the FPA is Juicy Pink Box, a “feminist” porn company specializing in lesbian erotica." It won awards in 2011 for Taxi and 2012 for Boutique for “best lesbian series.”

The company was founded and is run by Jincey Lumpkin, its "chief sex officer." Lumpkin came to feminism and porn late. “I grew up in Georgia,” she says, “and was raised thinking feminists were man haters.” “I always wonder why there was a sexual double-standard,” she recalls. “Later I realized that feminism is about equality.”  “Male-initiated sex was acceptable; guys were just being guys,” she argues. “But women who were sexual, who initiated, were dubbed ‘sluts.’ Why?”  

Lumpkin started her company five years ago in order to, she says, "undo generations of anti-sex media, especially about women."

 
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