A new show has been launched on Danish television. The idea of the show is that women walk on in a bathrobe, stand in front of two men, take their robe off and stand there silently, completely naked, while the men discuss, praise and disparage the various parts of their body. That’s it.
Blachman claims that he is doing the women a favour because ‘the female body thirsts for the words of a man’. I wonder what woman wouldn’t be positively throbbing at the thought of being gawped at and criticised by two such fine specimens of manhood?!
…Or perhaps not. Do they do it for you ladies? No?! But of course that isn’t the point: it’s the women who are there to be judged, examined, measured up, approved of or found lacking. It doesn’t matter what he looks like: middle-aged, overweight, bald, mop-headed, double-chinned – women will be grateful to be looked at, the show implies, just because he’s male. Women will accept his authority to judge and validate or invalidate them as a person, or, more accurately, as a collection of body parts.
Blachman, who named his show the imaginative, descriptive, and not at all narcissistic title Blachman, has remained ‘humble’ about the achievement of this obviously important creative endeavour. At the deluge of criticism the show immediately faced, he fled to his home in New York and claimed ‘Ungratefulness is the only thing that can really wear down the few genius who reside in our country.’ And I’m sure Denmark is anguished by the loss of the genius who invented the idea of giggling at breasts and marking them out of ten.
Of course, one of the reasons Denmark and the rest of the world hasn’t been wowed, and hordes of naked women haven’t started begging their co-workers, shop assistants and neighbours to sit on a leather sofa looking smug and remarking on their labia, is because of how distinctly unoriginal this show is. Women are objectified and judged on their looks and bodies all the time. Despite the outrage, this is hardly a new way of thinking, damaging and sexist as it is. Blachman’s assertion that the female body – not the woman, but her body – longs for male approval is hardly a new idea – women have been being encouraged, to view themselves as an object to please the male gaze for centuries. Mainstream porn is a key genre where women are meant to get their satisfaction by pleasing and serving men. Female porn stars are often surgically enhanced and ‘perfect’ and the men performing in the films (beer belly, hairy crack, socks and all) are often unattractive.
The idea that men can have other features – wealth, power, a good sense of humour – that make them attractive irrespective of their appearance is common, whereas for women these things alone are never enough: they can instantly be disregarded or mocked if they don’t shape up to standards of female beauty. That’s why this show, far from being original, creative and avant-garde, almost seems like a parody. It makes explicit a vague, shifting but pervasive idea that we all recognise and encounter – in newspapers (page three girls), on television (in adverts) on such archaic events such as Miss World and just walking down the street (builders first started to wolf whistle me when I was 11).
In my films I enjoy turning existing (gender) stereotypes upside down. I often try to subvert exactly this kind of objectification of women by handing the power to women and making men the ‘objects’. In The Female Voyeur we shot a sexy, tongue-in-cheek male talent show called XXX Men, where the boys had to parade in their underwear and perform a sexual talent for our all-female judges panel, such as pole-dancing, masturbating and giving oral sex.
The shoot of this unconventional scene empowered the female as well as the male performers: The guys enjoyed being the object of desire, and ‘prey’ instead of predator for once. And the women loved having the power, being the voyeurs and judging jury for once. When the female jury ‘marked’ the men it was fun, flirty and approving, and of course in some contexts – like this one – consensual objectification can make people feel sexy and appreciated.
Some people have criticized this XXX Men scene as ‘too simple’. I feel that sometimes we have to turn existing patterns upside down to make us aware how engrained gender-patters are. It rubs us up the wrong way when suddenly the women do to men what is the male prerogative. And that exactly is the point. We need images that show women in control and men to be passive and/or submissive as a counterbalance to the flood of images that empower men and objectify women. I would like to live in a world where we can chose how we express ourselves and our sexuality – independent of our gender. The choices are not just black or white but there is a kaleidoscope of colour out there for all of us to be experienced and enjoyed. Maybe one day we want to be looked at and the next day we enjoy being the voyeur. What matters is that we can choose.
But this is not what’s happening on Blachman: the clinical examination of different body parts (Blachman is reported to have asked his friend ‘how’s that pussy working out for you?’), the enforced silence of the women, and the sneering, chuckling smarminess of this self-proclaimed ‘genius’ demonstrate just how chauvinistic and dated this programme is.
One of the worst things is that this is state-sponsored sexism. DR2, the channel that airs Blachman, is a publicly funded station. Sofia Fromberg, the producer of the show, has attempted to justify the show by saying that DR2 ‘is a society channel. Our main focus is what’s going on in society and we debate it.’ Well, she’s right about one thing: Blachman does show something that goes on in society: sexism and female objectification. But she’s very wrong to call it a debate. On the most basic level, the women are being silenced and we just hear and see the male perspective. All this show does is to replay and condone the objectification of women in the most blatant and unashamed way, and it deserves every bit of ridicule it receives.
Oh and Mr. Blachman, just so you know – the male body thirsts for the words of a woman, and if you have a quick look through The Female Voyeur you’ll see the proof…
Petra is featured in an interesting article on feminist porn in the German Magazine Kontext
“We are all part of, not separate from, nature. Thus all sex is ecosex!”
(Annie Sprinkle & Elizabeth M. Stephens)
Earth Day has been and gone and many people were not even aware of it. We live on this amazing planet and take from it what we want, yet we do not protect, cherish or nurture it.
The longer I live, the more I love earth in all its breath-taking beauty, boundless variety, creative abundance and sensual richness. Time I spend in nature is time I feel most alive, happy and free. So I spend more and more time in woodlands, meadows and the sea.
I do what I can to celebrate and protect the planet and am happy to see that there is an exciting sexual movement that is gaining more and more momentum: It’s called Ecosex, and it is fronted by the brilliant feminist sexual activists Annie Sprinkle and her wife Elizabeth M. Stephens. Annie is a good friend of mine and is on a similar journey to me. She has had an amazing career of self discovery, sexual exploration and creative expression. She is an artist, sexologist and activist who has been promoting free sexual and feminism all her life. A while back she has begun to discover, embrace and live eco-sexuality, declaring along with an ever -growing global community of eco-sexuals in their Ecosex Manifesto:
“The earth is our lover. We make love with the earth through our senses. We are skinny dippers, sun worshippers and stargazers. We are very dirty. We celebrate our E-spots! We treat the earth with kindness, love and affection…”
I think this idea is beautiful and it really resonates with me.
I’ve always thought that it can’t be a coincidence that so many people involved with sexual liberation and feminism are also passionate about environmentalism and animal rights: it shows a deep, humanitarian way of engaging with the world, the ability to think and love freely, as well as the desire to engage with, support and protect everyone and everything around us. We all are one and connected in many ways.
After all, what good are our human rights if we don’t care about the rights of other creatures? And what good are our freedoms if we allow our precious planet to be polluted, exploited and abused until one day it will be completely wrecked? All natural resources are running frighteningly low and time is running out.
That’s why I love Annie’s idea of re-connecting emotionally and sensually with the world around us. Sexuality can be a deep and spiritual experience, and I think uniting ourselves with the earth and with nature while we explore is an exciting and relevant idea. We can also use our sexuality to protest against the abuse of planet earth and promote its protection. If these ideas appeal to you too then you’re in luck, because the first International Ecosex Symposium is this year, and will be in the UK, France and Spain (Germany to be confirmed). It looks like there’s going to be an amazing line up of workshops, talks and fun, earthy activities. You can have a look at the programme and complete Ecosex Manifesto here. I love how inclusive, creative and fun it looks. And knowing Annie and Beth I am certain that the event will be inspirational and deeply enriching for all involved.
If you can’t wait for this summer’s events, would like to help saving pockets of nature and are daring enough to have sex on camera, you might want to contribute your video to Fuck For Forest. Fuck For Forest is an erotic, non-profit ecological organization that gives its members access to erotic photos and videos for donations that will be spent on projects protecting nature. Any film Fuck For Forest shoots or publishes is based on authentic erotic adventures of its supporters living out their sexuality freely in nature and for nature. The founders say:
“Sex is often shown to attract us to buy all kind of bullshit products and ideas, so why not for a good cause? Saving the planet IS sexy! Why not get horny for a good cause? It makes it easier for you and me to stay positive in an already too suppressed world. Now porn is healing! So let’s all get horny by nature, and give some LOVE back to our planet.”
You can support Fuck For Forest by donating money, becoming members and donating photos and videos. The group has recently been featured in a documentary that did not approve of the founders and members unconventional approach to political protest, porn production and fund raising. I have nothing but respect for the filmmakers and performers who have the guts to put their sex where their mouth is so to speak. Their porn films are sexy, subversive and politically provocative – check them out!
There are many ways to love the planet and discover your e-spots! As Annie and Beth say:
“Viva La Ecosex Revolution! Join us.”
Petra says: “I make my erotic films for women, so if the audience votes my film as the hottest film it makes me, my performers and crew jump for joy!”
Thanks to Dusk TV for shooting and posting this video about Petra winning the feminist porn award of Hottest Vignette Film for A taste of Joy. How funny that the prize envelope was sticky!
Thanks again to the Feminist Porn Awards we wish we could have been there to receive the trophy. Can’t wait to get it in the post!
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about how hard she’s finding her relationship. Part of the problem is that they’ve been together for quite a long time and are monogamous. He’s not interested in negotiating any other kind of relationship and, frankly, she’s starting to go a bit crazy! Having spent years having a lot of fun and enjoying polyamorous relationships before she met him, she decided she wanted something with more of an emotional connection and committed to an exclusive relationship. At first she enjoyed the sexual and emotional exclusiveness but now she feels she cannot be truly herself in this relationship any longer. Even though she loves him, she has some sexual needs that she cannot live out with her partner. He does not want her to live out her kinkier desires with other lovers and she finds it impossible to repress those desires any longer. Until recently she has been ‘paying’ for the emotional security that the relationship offers with her freedom, having had to neglect parts of her sexual self in order to keep him happy and the relationship going.
This got us talking and me thinking about how important it is to be able to make choices about the kind of unique relationships you want, rather than being coerced into the kind society thinks is ‘normal’ and acceptable. I’m a big fan of the book The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy, which is a classic for anyone interested in open relationships and how we can achieve sexual and personal freedoms whilst treating all the people we relate to with the utmost respect and honesty that everyone deserves.
One of the important ideas at the heart of this book is that everyone is an individual responsible for their own happiness, and that while we can have deep, loving connections with people, no-one should be responsible for someone else’s happiness. This approach to relationships is one that values everyone as strong, independent individuals rather than suggesting people are incomplete and need someone else to make them whole. This is especially relevant for women, who have been, and sadly often still are, conditioned to sacrifice their own life goals and autonomy in favour of romantic relationships. Not only that, but conventional opinion often encourages these sacrifices, positing emotional dependence as the only ‘right’ and ‘natural’ way to love another human being.
Of course this just isn’t true! It’s completely possible to be a strong, satisfied individual and to choose to love someone just because they’re so wonderful – in fact this must be the best way to love – out of choice rather than need! A relationship as the icing on the cake of our happiness rather than our emotional ‘bread and butter’. As my friend is currently finding out, love and sex can be two very different things. They don’t necessarily come together and can’t always be satisfied by the same person. Often we live out completely different facets of our sexuality with different people. And many of our fantasies involve multiple lovers.
Loads of the fantasies shared with me by my female audience involve some form of group sex. I enjoy turning these female fantasies into reality for my performers in my films: in Female Fantasies a woman is licked to orgasm by two skilled male lovers at once and in The Female Voyeur there’s a sumptuous, exotic orgy with sex slaves all pleasuring the women. These are the sorts of things so many women dream about that just aren’t possible if people aren’t allowed to think outside the monogamy box once they are in a relationship! And when you start to explore other options, dreams really can come true.
This is why I think challenging the cultural dominance of monogamy is an important part of female liberation. It’s not to say that some women depending on their situation or needs won’t want to choose a monogamous relationship anyway – I’ve been very happy in my monogamous relationship for years – but that often they don’t really get to make an active choice about it. The films I make are all focused on allowing women to be honest about what they want and what turns them on – and sometimes that just isn’t monogamy. As my despairing friend said to me, sex is like eating ice cream: strawberry is her favourite flavour but she doesn’t want to eat it all the time. Sometimes she wants other flavours she knows she likes, or to try new ones, and every once in a while she wants a giant sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top!
In fact, her sweet tooth is so strong that eventually she did start to sample some other sexual flavours again, and her taste buds are tingling. But where normally she would be happy and blossoming if she had such an abundance of love and sex, the experience is tainted with an enormous sense of guilt – not because she’s enjoying sex with several people, but because she’s lying to her partner about it. It’s a tricky situation; she knows no matter what she says to reassure him he won’t give her the freedom she needs to be happy. She loves him very much and fears that her honesty would mean losing him. And this is the downside of a society that refuses to discuss or accept other relationship options: if you feel you cannot live with monogamy you are left with the choice to either end your exclusive relationship, or to live out your fantasies behind your partner’s back and lie. So in this case, he is still experiencing the very thing he can’t stand the thought of, he just is not aware what is going on. She can neither fully enjoy her sexuality (with other lovers) or her intimate, loving relationship with her partner without feeling guilty. It’s a lose-lose situation, and one that would really benefit from some openness and honesty. All involved deserve to know what is going on so they can make an informed choice about what kind of relationship they want to live. Maybe the needs of my friend her partner are just not compatible any longer – even if they still love each other…
To love polyamorously does not mean doing whatever you want without any care for others – that’s where the ‘ethical’ part of Dossie and Janet’s book comes in. They spend most of the book discussing communicating, compromising and caring for your partners and yourself, and recognise that all open relationships are going to take hard work and can and will be subject to bouts of jealousy and insecurity. The irony is that by refusing people their desires – as my friend’s boyfriend has – you often might end up more hurt than if you had been willing to give your partner the freedom they desire. She has now betrayed his trust in a way that might eventually destroy their relationship for good…
Monogamous, polyamorous, single or partnered – love and relationships are always difficult seas to navigate, but we should all have the freedom to live and love in whatever way we wish, whether that means having sex five times a day or never, with one person or with dozens. And with that in mind, I hope my friend finds a way to resolve her dilemma soon and live as the ice-cream-loving ethical slut I know she truly is!
We are pleased to announce that Petra’s film “A Taste of Joy” has won the award for the “Hottest Vignette Film” at the Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto.
Petra says: “It feels wonderful for me, my crew and my performers to be recognized with this award. The trophy will get a special place in my office to remind me of the sexy sisterhood for whom I do my films!”
We would like to thank the hard-working organisers of this important award and congratulate all other winners!
You might have seen in the news recently that Iceland is considering a ban on certain types of online porn, while the European Parliament just took a vote on whether to ban all online porn across Europe (they voted against, thankfully!) You can watch a youtube debate about Iceland’s ban that I took part in a couple of weeks ago here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzzYFHX5-ek
Banning porn seems to be a hot topic at the moment, and of course this is a difficult issue. Most people who support the ban seem to do so for the right reasons – they are worried about the exploitation and objectification of women rather just rehashing old-fashioned morality about sex being obscene. Tanya Gold recently called for ‘fair porn’ (which I support) but wants to ban all other porn (which I am against).
Of course, most mainstream porn is sexist: it glorifies the degradation of women and suggests all ideas of sexuality and beauty are confined to narrow, repetitive clichés. The mainstream porn industry creates a damaging image of sexuality, and continues to entrench misogyny and sexual violence as normal and even desirable. A large part of the problem is that porn is the only way a lot of people get to see other people express their sexuality, so the way that porn stars look and behave comes to seem the norm. Porn serves as sex education for a lot of (young) people, so I feel that as a pornographer I have a responsibility to show a great variety of sex including foreplay and sexy safer sex.
When you have facial cum-shots, extremely rough anal sex and forced blowjobs shown almost all the time, it starts to be expected that all women will want and enjoy these things, when in fact most don’t. I can see the temptation of trying to restrict this, and this was exactly the reason I was involved in the anti-porn movement in the 80s. But if the reason porn is being discussed is women’s rights, then I don’t see how banning it is the answer. More and more women chose to express and enjoy their sexuality by shooting or watching porn.
A ban on porn suggests there’s something innately bad and exploitative about filming and watching sex – which there isn’t. It’s not porn itself that’s bad, it’s certain elements of the commercial mainstream porn industry. We don’t need a ban: sex isn’t something that’s dirty and bad and needs to be kept private. There’s nothing wrong with people wanting to watch other people have sex, getting turned on and using it for their own pleasure. That can be a positive, wonderful and empowering thing.
What we need are alternatives. As the fabulous Annie Sprinkle once said: “The answer to ‘bad’ porn is not ‘no porn’ but ‘good’ porn!” By creating sex-positive porn I and lots of other adventurous feminist pornographers show that sex and porn can be erotic and empowering for everyone, including and especially women. We need porn that shows real, genuine passion, performers who actually enjoy themselves and fancy each other, and women who love sex and have amazing orgasms.
Banning porn can only make our society more sexually repressed, and repression always makes guilty, messed up attitudes towards sex and women even worse. One problem in censoring porn would be: who would be employed to classify and censor porn? One person’s fetish is another person’s ‘perversion’. I can easily imagine someone objecting to my “Joy Club” scene from “A Taste of Joy” because they don’t like to see women fucking guys with a strap-on as they consider this as ‘degrading’ (even though the guys thoroughly enjoyed it). Ultimately I think the people who watch porn need to make choices and will hopefully support “fair porn” where it is obvious that the performers had choices, are enjoying themselves and have not been exploited.
If we as a society openly embraced positive, consensual porn we could change people’s attitudes for the better, not to mention enhancing their sex lives.
The porn I and other feminist directors make does challenge the mainstream industry and porn critics alike. Why? Because it’s genuine, sexy and original, and appeals to a large part of the population that mainstream porn usually excludes – women. Women have their own desires and fantasies and more and more of the chose to spend their money on their (sexual) pleasure.
With an increasing number of creative and idealistic female porn-makers producing amazing, sexy films, mainstream porn is going to face a challenge. I get emails from so many ‘fans’ telling me how boring and predictable mainstream porn is – even hetero men, who commercial porn is designed to appeal to, get bored of the same formulaic pounding and faked expressions. Eventually a lot of mainstream porn is going to sabotage itself because it’s so boring, passionless and fake. We provide people with alternatives so they realise that there’s something much more exciting out there.
This is why we need more porn, not less! Rather than trying to take away the problem of a sexist porn industry by banning access to its products, we need to change it from the inside. Porn can be a great thing. It doesn’t have to be something harmful, degrading and sexist. If people – especially women – could indulge their fantasies while watching safe, consensual sex play everyone is enjoying – why would there be any need to get rid of it?
We are happy to announce that Petra’s latest film A Taste of Joy has just been nominated for an award at the Feminist Porn Awards, Toronto. Congratulations to the other nominees!