Media Madness: The double-edged sword

HeadlinesRecently I have had a lot of media attention, particularly in Germany where my book came out a few weeks ago. I am happy about the opportunity to spread the message of porn from a female perspective but sometimes worry that the way these stories are presented can be counter-productive.

I am always asked by journalists what women want. My reply is that I cannot speak for all women as female sexuality is multi-faceted. Some like it soft, some like it hard; some want a storyline in porn, some not – so it is impossible to generalise. Yet when my interviews are published they are usually shortened and statements where I make clear that I do not want to generalise are deleted. This gives a distorted representation of what I think and is really frustrating. There is also a tendency to compose controversial headlines such as “Politically correct porn” (when my films are far from that as they feature a lot of taboos such as male bisexuality, pegging etc) or “From anti-porn activist to porn producer” (as if I had done a U-turn when in fact I have come full circle, am still against misogynist porn but choose to create alternatives, rather than just criticize mainstream porn).

Another problem is the context my interviews are represented in. In a recent online interview the image galleries next to my interview had nothing to do with porn for women but were shots from mainstream porn productions featuring female surgically enhanced porn stars posing for men. Underneath the interview they had a boxed text with “ten reasons why couples should watch porn”. This text was not written by me. I was particularly annoyed by reason number four “Each to their own” which stated that in porn women like a storyline and men just want to see hard-core images of fucking. This is simply not true – I know a lot of women who fast forward through badly acted dialogue in porn and a lot of men who want to see more subtly erotic images of sex than the brightly lit close ups of genitals.
So to be presented in a context that confirms stereotypes about porn is utterly frustrating. The readers often cannot distinguish what my statements and images are and what are just random elements posted next to my interview. Then they write in “comments” that they “do not get the difference between mainstream porn by men and porn from a female perspective” – how can they if everything is mixed up in the presentation?

This is not the first time that the media perpetuates the message that “porn is porn”. I was in a talk show once where, after I had explained the female perspective and approach to making alternative porn, one of the other guests (a member of the conservative party) blurted out: “I don’t care, porn is porn!” and the host agreed. What a shame – they missed the point completely. It is exciting that there are nowadays many kinds of porn. Indie directors (many of them female) have reclaimed and transformed a repetitive and boring genre into an exciting, innovative genre that blurs the boundaries between porn and art. There is something for every taste. Something to enrich our lives if we are curious enough to look beyond the simplifying tabloid headlines and let ourselves be seduced and enchanted.

I am also getting a lot of media requests wanting to put me up in talk shows etc. “against” a militant feminist who is outspoken against any kind of porn. I always say ‘No’ to those requests because this kind of antagonistic discussion aims to create a sensationalist cat fight and would confirm the prejudice that women do not stand united but stab each other in the back at every opportunity. I have no problem with the fact that some women and feminists are against any kind of porn. That is their prerogative. To me the interesting story we should focus on is how many women are actually working together in revolutionising the porn and the sex industry. There are female erotic filmmakers, writers, publishers, sex toy designers, sex shop owners etc. and we are all doing our part in reclaiming a previously male genre and industry and celebrate female sexuality. Sisters united. But I guess where there is no conflict, there is no story?

Some journalists get very excited about the topics of porn and feminism and end up interviewing me for hours on end. Sometimes the emails go back and forth for weeks. This takes up a lot of my time and is of course unpaid work I do when frankly sometimes I would rather be doing my creative work: shooting, editing or writing. I give the interviews anyway because I believe in what I do and think it is important that as many women and men as possible are made aware of alternative porn that focuses on the pleasure of the woman. But sadly often when it comes to the journalist presenting their work to the editor in charge, the editor gets cold feet, the story gets rejected and is simply not published. This happened to me with The Guardian, El Pais, the NZZ to name just a few of the big publications. It is almost like they can only write about porn in negative terms, as in ‘pornofication of society’, ‘actors being infected with HIV during a shoot’ or ‘female performers who were trafficked to be adult actors’. As if there was no porn that people do for the love of it and are proud to be part of. Porn production as well as feminism has many faces these days – sadly we are often only presented with the same old clichés rather than with what is fresh, new and ground-breaking. It takes a long time for a grass-root revolution to reach the mainstream media. And when it does sadly often the messages get simplified or distorted… So do not believe all you read, go back to the source of the material being discussed and make up your own mind…

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