Feminist Porn

Food for Thought

I came across a compelling TED talk about “feminist porn” last night, and out of curiosity, I watched one film by the prominent feminist porn director, Erika Lust, called The Intern.

According to the TED talk, many women love gay male porn because mainstream straight porn is anxiety-inducing for them. Lust’s film helped me understand how that feels. In typical porn with the “male gaze,” men don’t have to live up to any standard, yet, somehow, women are all over the men like starving hyenas.

The focus of Lust’s film is women’s pleasure and satisfaction, and naturally, men have to live up to certain expectations. I felt exhausted and had to stop watching halfway into the two-hour film.

It vividly reminded me of Jacques Lacan’s famous proclamation: “There’s no such thing as a sexual relationship.” What he meant is that even when we are having real sex, each of us is essentially masturbating. So, sex is like a word with two completely different meanings, like “bat” and “racket”; the act of pronouncing it is the same for the two people, but it means different things to them.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for feminist porn. I think our society needs a lot more, and teenage girls would benefit from it the most. No matter how committed your high school is to sex education, they won’t be able to show the actual acts. It’s like learning to drive a car without anyone demonstrating it to you. Of course, teenagers have to watch porn videos online to learn how to do it, but we as a society are not controlling the quality of the source materials. The vast majority are made for men, so girls have to live up to their expectations. If the opposite were true, I would feel so stressed that rather stay celibate.

But for feminist porn to make financial sense, there must be a much greater demand, which, in turn, means women need to watch more porn. The men who can meet the expectations of feminist porn might enjoy watching it, but the rest of us would likely fall back on the starving hyena videos. So, it’s up to women to make it happen.