HeForShe

The push for an end to sexism and misogyny is a never-ending struggle that has been ongoing for years. As a result, it flares up publicly every so often. But lately, these issues have been at the forefront of international news, perhaps more so than at any time in the past decade or so. This is thanks in part Emma Watson’s courageous feminist speech at the U.N.

Appearing as a goodwill ambassador, the young actress launched what is being called the “HeForShe” campaign, essentially calling on men to do their part to speak up for feminist stances. As The Guardian wrote in response to the speech, there has already been a clear and encouraging response by a number of prominent male figures.

Indeed, this speech by Watson and the widespread coverage it has received represent one of the largest public pushes against sexism in recent memory. But when these kinds of marquee events happen, it’s also easy for a lot of us to sit back and assume the hard part is done or that a major hurdle has been cleared. But particularly with the ever-continuing battle for true equality, it’s still important for us to address the relevant issues at all levels – in living rooms, bedrooms and at U.N. conventions. And that’s why the growing spread of feminist porn has been so encouraging of late.

The basic concept of feminist porn is pretty simple to understand and familiar to readers here: essentially, it’s porn from a woman’s point of view and/or acting on women’s fantasies. This is not to suggest that ordinary porn deals exclusively with men’s fantasies, as there is plenty of standard erotica that appeals to both sexes. But the general point of view in the majority of mainstream erotica still belongs to men as it is produced by men for men. That’s what Petra Joy films seeks to counter through the exploration of the female point of view. Petra points out that her films are not just for a female but also a male audience who craves authenticity in porn and enjoys the much overdue change of perspective. And now, just as Emma Watson called for people everywhere to take up feminist causes, we’re beginning to see feminist porn go global while becoming more widely viewed and distributed all the time.

Just this summer, The Independent ran a rather comprehensive piece about the rise of feminist pornography through the years, from a sort of niche idea to the increasingly popular “genre” today. This isn’t just an idea or a vague concept that can be explored at extensive porn sites that seem to have at least a few films for every imaginable genre. Rather, feminist porn is growing to be represented at all levels, online and in adult film sales. This is evident at Adam & Eve online, where you can now even find evidence of an expanding international network of feminist directors. Candida Royalle – the true pioneer and leading American filmmaker in the genre – is featured heavily on the site, but has also included a few films directed by Petra Joy under her label—specifically, Female Fantasies and Feeling It not Faking It!. It should also be noted that in return, Petra has been publishing select Candida Royalle work as part of her Her Porn compilation series! This sort of collaborative effort between top figures in the genre will only serve to improve the variety of feminist erotica and expand its visibility on a global scale. And that is a reason to celebrate.

This is an important step, not just for those with a stake in feminist erotica but for feminism in general. Just as Emma Watson’s recent headline-making speech emphasised, the spread of feminist values has to be aided not just by a few female voices but by a widespread embrace from all parties. And the fact that feminist porn appears to be going global is another step in the right direction!

Many thanks to Deborah Foss for this guest blog!

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