Book Review

Good Porn by Erika Lust

Years ago I wrote my master thesis about Feminist Porn. I researched the history starting from the feminist second wave. This debate held two opposed viewpoints: the anti-porn movement who argued that porn was anti-feminist because it exploited women’s bodies. On the other hand, the anti-censorship movement saw the potential to free (female) sexuality from patriarchal, misogynous and heteronormative social structures. I explored how the discourse developed to the contemporary debate and what the values and ethics of feminist porn include. (I wrote more about this in Dutch on this blog.)

‘Good Porn’ helped me during my research process. It is a very accessible book that’s writing with a humorous wink. Erika Lust is an independent erotic filmmaker, author and founder of Erica Lust Films. She has directed 4 award-winning erotic feature films, as well as the groundbreaking XConfessions short films.

Pornographic movies are traditionally very (white, cis-, hetero-) men-based. This is reflected to the porn they make: it’s mainly porn from men with a male audience in mind. In the last decades more female and queer directors are making porn for a diverse group of consumers. Thanks to people like Candida Royalle, Tristan Taormino and Lust there is a new wave in adult cinema. They are forging a new concept of sexual expression. For Lust, the feminine viewpoint is vital, and the aesthetic is a pleasure for those seeking an alternative to porn.

“I couldn’t see myself in those films at all, and the women in those movies existed for one reason alone – to pleasure the men. The sexual situations were ridiculous based on male fantasies. (…) I understood that a different kind of porn was possible, and that women had a great deal to contribute to a genre that had always been the exclusive province of men.”

“Porn isn’t just porn. It’s a discourse, a way of talking about sex. It’s a way of seeing and understanding masculinity and femininity. But this discourse and the theory behind it are almost 100 percent male (and often sexist as well). There are almost no women’s voice in this discourse (…) I believe that women’s participation in pornographic discourse will give us an excellent opportunity to explain our sexuality in a way that’s both vivid and explicit.”

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