I think it’s degrading to women to say porn is inherently degrading to women. Of course, not all women choose porn out of desire or free agency, and especially during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we should be cognizant of this fact and the institutional factors that make it so. But many women consume and/or participate in porn actively and frequently, with enjoyment and discerning ethics. Discounting our participation erases our sexual agency and restricts our free sexual expression.
The reality of what women, even feminists, find pleasurable is not always politically correct. Sexuality is not neat and clean. I have talked to many feminist women who struggle to balance what really happens behind closed doors and what they feel the bedroom politics of a “good feminist” should be. Enjoying BDSM, strap-on sex and sex toys, genderplay, rape and incest taboo, mainstream pornography, and other “deviant” sexual taboos with a consensual partner does not make a person a “bad feminist” or a hypocrite. To the contrary, feminism is what gave me permission to love sex, with myself and with others, to embrace my sexual orientation, and find out what turns me on. Pro-sex feminism argues that recognizing the role of fantasy in sexual arousal and coming out of shame about sexual desires opens the door to a more frank and honest discussion about women’s bodies, consent, and safer sex. And that leads to better, safer sex that encourages communication and complete, enthusiastic consent to sex that is fulfilling and healthy. How is that not feminist?
Can sex films empower women?
Following former home secretary Jacqui Smith’s BBC Radio 5 documentary about pornography, sociologist and author Gail Dines debates the issue with Anna Arrowsmith, a pornographic film-maker and former LibDem candidate.
While a bit dated (March, 2011), still an interesting look into the issue.