The 7th of September 2015 was a very sad day for many women, feminists and erotic artists around the world. As the news spread that Candida Royalle died at her New York home, her Facebook page has been transformed into a colourful kaleidoscope of an amazing life. Every few minutes someone new leaves a tribute for this truly exceptional woman that paved the way for porn from a female perspective and opened doors to the many feminist pornographers – myself included – that followed in her footsteps. All the pictures posted show a radiant woman with a smile that said “I love live, will live it to the full, let’s go and have an adventure!”
Over fifty per cent of the human race menstruate. Women, as well as many non-binary and trans people experience it once each month from adolescense to menopause. That’s a lot of periods, and a lot of time for us all to get accustomed to it – so why is menstruation still taboo?
Sex is far more than just something we do with our bodies. In porn, as in real life, the best sex is built on a foundation of consent – the mind chooses to say “Yes” and the body follows…
I can’t remember the last time a guy said ‘I demand an orgasm during sex’, and I’m sure if he had the reaction to it would have been one of confusion: “you demand an orgasm? But… you get one as standard!” Yet when Nicki Minaj said that she ‘demands orgasm equality‘ during sex, it was considered big news.
The Mirror opened their coverage with the line: “We always suspected Nicki Minaj was a bit of a diva and it seems she is in EVERY aspect of her life.” And don’t get me started on the Daily Mail comments – one commenter even suggested that “climaxing is unnatural for women” because it serves no reproductive purpose.
There was such outrage over something that, to me, seems so obvious: of course women should demand pleasure from sex.
You only need to look at the banners on a mainstream website (such as “Hot babes in your area want to suck cock!”) to see that they’re assuming a target audience of men. Not to mention the fact that so much mainstream porn caters to fantasies that are clichéd visions of male fantasies. So how do we distinguish porn that is based on female fantasies? Often this is done by using phrases like ‘female-friendly porn.’ While it’s important to distinguish porn which breaks this mould, some of the ways we do it imply that women need something fundamentally different.
I just received my proof copy of the German magazine “Der Spiegel” which ran their cover story on female sexuality. The article is based on a brand-new study of female sexuality as well as expert interviews (and I am proud I was one of them).
The study by the Institute of Sexuality at the University of Hamburg, questioning 2100 students, has unearthed lots of exciting and encouraging facts:
In 1996 only 11% of German women apparently used a vibrator or dildo, now it is 38% of women who pleasure themselves with a toy. It is not just toys that can be a huge turn on however: my thesis has always been that women are voyeurs too and can get turned on by porn, especially porn that features female fantasies and focuses on female pleasure. The statistics show that indeed more and more women enjoy porn and are not ashamed to admit this:
23% of women had watched porn in the last 4 weeks and 44% of couples now watch porn together. In 1996 only 29% of couples enjoyed porn together.
Believe it or not, there are still members’ clubs that are reserved for men only. It is not just a lot of golf clubs… until a few years ago the porn industry was also an almost exclusively men-only affair, at least behind the camera.
When I tried to get my first-ever erotic film “Sexual Sushi” into the shops 10 years ago, I hit a wall of male resistance. I went to Europe’s biggest adult trade show, the Venus in Berlin, with my Palm Pilot in my pocket and every single business meeting I had was with a smug guy in a suit laughing at my concept of “art-core” porn. They did not get it: a porn film without major porn stars or money shots? An alternative porn that featured abstract, arty scenes as well as plenty of authentic sex between a couple that were clearly very much in love and blissfully unaware of the camera? They looked at me as if I was an alien before their eyes wandered off to the topless waitress serving us or one of the many live sex shows that surrounded us. I walked away empty-handed – no production or distribution deal. No further interest. They ticked me off as a curiosity.
Cora Emens is a well known Dutch sex educator who was 57 years old when she decided to live out her sexuality without fear, guilt or shame in front of Petra’s camera. Petra and Cora created together the sensual scene “And the winner is…” for Petra’s feature “(S)he Comes“, which is being screened this week as the opening film at the “Holy Fuck“ film festival in the cinema Film Huis Cavia in Amsterdam. Here is an interview with Cora about the prejudices that surround older women’s sexuality, porn clichés and why she decided to have sex on camera in a feminist porn film directed by Petra.
Let’s be honest: women’s bodies are subject to a hell of a lot of scrutiny. From what we’re wearing (Short skirt? Make up? Type of underwear?) to our physical appearance itself (Colour, shape, size, body hair – you name it).
If you’re a woman, you know this already.
If you’re a now-infamous brand of protein and weight loss supplements, you clearly don’t.
You’ll probably have seen the Protein World posters, and the backlash against them, in the news. A few weeks ago bright yellow adverts appeared on the London Underground – a slim, toned model staring sultrily at the camera, and in huge lettering the question: “Are you beach body ready?” The image was pretty stark, and the implication caused outrage. Why, in order to be ‘ready’ for the beach, must women dedicate themselves to making sure that their bodies match that of the model?
I am on the train heading back from the Ladybeard launch in London last night and am still buzzing. Can’t wipe the smile off my face.
I had a bit of a nightmare journey heading up to London from the south coast in a 4 hour odyssey but all was quickly forgotten and is was so worth it as the night turned out to be one of the best events I have ever attended.
Ladybeard is a new magazine and their first issue is dedicated to “sexuality”. The launch was a fundraiser to get this fab magazine printed. There was a panel featuring some of the magazine’s first issue interviewees, discussing myths and taboos surrounding sex.