Sex & Relationships

Why Lesbian Porn Is the Best

Mainstream porn traffics in male fantasies crafted and executed by men, with not much of women's fantasies or pleasure in mind.

Porn. It exists in two polar fields: enticement and disgust. The enticement comes from the natural biological response that comes from watching sex; the disgust comes from the mores surrounding the porn industry. This leaves feminists, men and women alike, in a strange place.

Regular old straight porn features large breasts, close-ups on every crevice of the groin area, ejaculation shots, men with abnormally large phallus' and often, the portrayal of a woman being “talked” into having sex and then, miraculously, enjoying it. Porn generally falls in that latter category of disgust, or at least, it did for me when I watched some “research” porn for this story.

The epitome of straight porn is Bang Bros, a production company founded in 2000 that has 18 active porn sites and uses a “gonzo” filming style.  It’s unclear if this “gonzo” style is real or not; Bang Bros Corp did not return my e-mails or phone calls to answer that question. Since Bang Bros don’t appear to be facing criminal investigation, it’s likely acted out, like “reality” TV.

One video I watched opens with a van and two men: one behind the camera, the other driving. They start talking to a young man and woman who are on their way to lunch. The cameraman asks a woman wearing a short mini skirt and a tight top if she usually dresses like “that” for work. She responds no, she was just picking up her paycheck. They ask her if she knows why they are filming her and she doesn't know. They look at the young guy, who looks a bit sheepish and says, “He didn't tell you?” The men laugh, and the woman looks confused.

At this point, nausea washes over me. The three actors finally get her in the van. It takes what felt like 30 minutes of laughter and awkwardness for the two men who approached the woman with the camera to finally tell her that they are a porn company and want to film her having sex with the man. Finally, they coax her into it. I almost had to turn it off because it made me so uncomfortable.

The video is a typical mainstream porno portraying the man and woman in the back of the van. I could say they had intercourse, but that doesn't quite feel right. She “gets it.” It's nauseating.

The lead-up is too much of a joke on her, and though she seems to enjoy what happens in the back of the van, it's still a typical example of the male-dominated pornography industry: Male fantasies crafted and executed by men with not much of women’s fantasies or pleasure in mind. Though the whole episode made me ill, there are obviously some people who do get turned on by what I found repulsive and violating.

There may be women who enjoy watching this sort of portrayal, but there is also a need for more feminist-based porn. And here, in this land of women sitting pretty submitting to the desire of a male filmmaker, a new kind of pornography is emerging.

Juicy Pink Box, a lesbian porn company run by Jincey Lumpkin, is one such alternative to emerge from the rejection of straight porn that involves cheesy music and a whole lot of butt shots.

Lumpkin says she first encountered porn when she found her father's secret stash between the drawers in their recreation room during middle school. Growing up in Carrollton, Ga., with a population of 23,000 in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, Lumpkin never knew what a lesbian was until she watched The Howard Stern Show. Ten years later, Lumpkin says she was looking for lesbian porn, but most of what she found she didn’t like.

“In traditional girl-on-girl porn created for a male audience, there is a huge focus on the actual body parts … You see a lot of them. The girls spread each other's ass cheeks wide apart so that the camera can see every little crevice, which is overkill,” says Lumpkin, who eventually quit her job as a lawyer to make her own porn. “The fake screaming, the body modification-all of it ... it's manufactured to satisfy a craving in a mostly male customer-base who has been fed a constant diet of the same thing for years now.”

Her website consists of all lesbian porn, girl-on-girl, but in short vignettes with real women, some femme, and some butch. What you won’t find in Lumpkin’s porn are men. Sure, there are still close ups of nipples hardening and sweat dripping down backs, but there aren’t too many spreading asses. There is a fundamental difference in the kind of porn Lumpkin makes and the porn found on BangBros.com and Redtube.com, another site that typifies traditional porn.

Lumpkin’s porn doesn't feel dirty. Hot, yes, but dirty, no. And for each video, there is a clip from the actresses talking about their experience on the set. This gives the body parts a real face, the exact opposite of objectification.

Erika Lust, filmmaker, journalist, author most recently of X: A Woman's Guide to Good Porn, and founder of Lust Films of Barcelona, is another woman who found her calling in feminist porn.

“The mainstream industry excludes male homosexuality, puts straight male desire in charge of female homosexuality, whilst the straight woman is just a reflection of the male desire, not showing own feelings, desires, wishes, decisions, except for serving straight male needs for a ridiculously unrealistic stereotype of manhood and male desire,” Lust says. “So as I didn't see myself in those porn films, I also thought that there must be a lot of men quite bored with those dull images. I figured that if I wanted a different [kind of] porn, I had to do it myself.”

She produces longer films, usually at least an hour long (porn these days is usually no more than five minutes long) with actors paired with other actors of the both sexes. She says she recognizes that men also have a need for more realistic and less objectifying porn.

“Less and less people are willing to buy their low quality films as you get this stuff for free on the net quite easily, while more and more people discover our productions,” Lust says. “For a female audience, there needs to be female characters to identify with that realistically are driven by desires and wishes that real women have. It's more balanced; it's like objectifying and being objectified: giving and taking. Like it is in sex: you give pleasure, and you get your share.”

Lumpkin and Lust both have contacts with the mainstream porn industry, though mostly through the actors and actresses they work with. At the time of the interview, Lumpkin said she had just gotten back from the Adult Video News convention in Las Vegas.

“I have had a really brilliant reception and most everyone has welcomed me warmly,” Lumpkin says. “Of course, I have been very critical of mainstream porn, so there are some people who are a bit defensive. However, I think that they can see that I am approaching my work from a place of real passion and truth, and people appreciate that—even if it is different from the kind of product that they are producing.”

Lust has had a different experience with mainstream porn directors.

“It's mostly guys in their 50s who have been doing this stuff for a long time, not even thinking about changing anything,” Lust says. “They mostly behave quite rudely and I gave up [having] discussions on an intellectual level with them, because it's simply impossible. They don't argue, they just start with sexist jabbering trying to reduce me to my body and gender, but that's because they are afraid. They are losing money as more independent productions pop up.”

Like Lumpkin, my first experiences with porn were through The Howard Stern Show and the Girls Gone Wild infomercials run late night during my teenage years. Since then, I hadn't watched much porn until the three or so hours I watched for this article. What I found was a lot of objectification and, at times, arousal. But the women in these storylines perpetuated violence and using vaginas and breasts for purely sexual purposes. That, at the core of watching those short snippets of sex, was what was disturbing.

Porn is not unnatural. It is part of the sexual experience to bring pleasure. But it’s all about who holds the power. The person holding the camera and the men in the videos I watched had it. And the new wave of pornography seeks to take that power back.

Lisa Gillespie is a former staff writer for Campus Progress as well as the Managing Editor & New Media Director at Street Sense.