AllFeminismPleasurePornPower

Porn, Pleasure, and Power: Why Fairpleasure?

I want to do something about the massive problem I see all around me: stigma about women’s sexuality and, as a consequence, women disconnected from their own desires and lacking confidence to voice them.   Women too often come second both literally and figuratively, in the bedroom and in too many other areas of life. 

I am still learning as I go, so I write this humbly and with the hope that we can spark a conversation. (Please forgive me in advance for my narrow use of terms here. I know sex, gender, and sexuality are not this black and white, but heterosexual, cisgender porn is primarily what I’m focusing on here, in this post.) 

 I believe that reconnecting to our desires and truly valuing them is a way to value ourselves.  To that end, I believe that porn can be a force for good. I believe that it can be a vehicle for women to explore their fantasies, to learn more about their desires and themselves, and ultimately reconnect women to a source of power: our pleasure.   

Not the kind of porn we see and hear about all too often – not the exploitative kind where people are coerced, unpaid, or feel they have no options but to participate.  Not the kind of porn that promotes violence against women or completely unrealistic expectations of women’s bodies and pleasure. Not the kind that’s pirated for free, all over the internet, where even the pop up ads spiral down a rabbit hole of things you’re too uncomfortable to have on your screen, let alone get off to. Not that kind of porn. Not at all.

But ethical porn – where the actors choose to participate (or not!), have a voice in the creative process, who they work with and what they perform, are paid fairly, and are treated with respect – that, I think, is revolutionary.  Particularly when it’s created as an expression of women’s pleasure, rather than a caricature of what men think that is.

Because women are often made to feel like we’re at the mercy of men’s sexual desires – in porn and in life.  We’re scared to walk down the street alone at night, or leave a drink unattended in a bar. Or say ‘Please hurry up and come, I’m not wet anymore – i.e. I don’t need you to prove your stamina at the expense of my pleasure.’ We’ve seen it with Harvey Weinstein and countless others brought to task through the #metoo and #timesup movements.  Women’s bodies, women’s sexuality are treated as secondary to men getting what they want. And we’re taught to go along with it.  We’re taught from a very young age that that’s how it is.

Why? A billion+ reasons, but for one, our pleasure and our desires aren’t culturally understood as important.  Take for example, nearly every mainstream movie (i.e. not porn) with a sex scene ever created. They almost all show us that women will magically come through penetration, that nobody needs to actually talk about their desires, or consent, or wear condoms or do any realistic things that we do in real life, like worrying about hygiene after a long day, or getting sand in their vagina if they have sex on a beach. That’s all swept away and we’re instead presented with an idealized, sanitized version of sex and sexuality that generally focuses on two (cisgender, heterosexual) people magically coming in sync through penetrative sex alone – where 9 times out of 10 he magically aims his penis directly into her vagina without so much as a glance down.  Since the 70s (Shere Hite and no doubt others – like I said, I’m still learning), research has proved that this representation just isn’t true to women, or what they want.

Although let’s be honest, ‘what women want’ is a fallacy as well. The phrase implies that all women all want the same thing. Which is obviously bullshit. We’re all different, and we all want different things. Different things turn us on – and off – and those things change as we change, as our partners change, and as our bodies change. Sometimes even just as our moods change. But what nobody ever really tell us is that that’s ok. It’s ok to want different things and to want to explore and to learn more about your body’s capacity for pleasure at different times in your life. In fact – it’s normal.  Women’s sexual desires aren’t a pre-determined set menu to choose from. They’re ever-evolving and the more we explore them, the more they evolve and the more we learn about ourselves (and our relationships) in the process. That’s a GOOD thing. Knowing who you are and what you want gives you confidence, both in and out of the bedroom.

So what ethically made, non-exploitative porn can do is give us a way to explore our fantasies and what turns us on. To experiment with new things from the safety of our own homes.  Maybe with a partner, maybe not – but it gives us a way to go into sexual encounters knowing what we like and don’t like, what we’re willing to try and not try. And in the words of GI Joe (awkward place to quote him, I know) ‘Knowing is half the battle.’ Knowing ourselves and our bodies means we know where our bottom lines are (no pun intended). It means we know what we are and aren’t comfortable with or willing to accept.  And maybe it gives us all some ideas, or just some stress relief, or a place to escape to in our heads and in our beds where our pleasure comes first for a change (again, both literally and figuratively). All of that is valid, and all of that is valuable.

We also need to have these kinds of conversations and explorations modelled somewhere – porn is just one, among many other places. But we need to see, hear, talk about, and debate what ethical sexual behaviour looks like.  I’d love to see a porn where, for example, if a woman winces in pain and says ‘Ouch’ the man stops what he’s doing, rather than doing it harder. With all of the (wonderful!) focus we’ve seen on the importance of consent in the media lately, I’d love to see porn where the actors talk about what they’re up for (pun totally intended) and what they’re not. And I know it’s out there! There are lots of porn videos where the actors use protection and yes, it’s still sexy.

I’m not advocating ethical porn as an exclusive sex-education tool, but I am suggesting it can be a space for self-exploration.  It can be a place to explore new ways to pleasure ourselves, or our partners, or fantasties we’re not yet ready to voice. It can be a place to see different kinds of bodies doing things we’ve never even thought of, in ways we might be too scared to try. It can work to reduce the stigma around female pleasure by normalizing and valuing it, rather than reinforcing outdated norms that don’t serve anybody well.  

So, I hope you’ll join me to learn more and share what you think about these issues – Fair Pleasure will create a space for this kind of learning and exploration and before we move into development, I’d love to know what you think.  We’re running a pre-development survey – it’s completely anonymous and the results won’t be shared.  If you feel comfortable, please let us know what you think by clicking here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *