The Feminist Porn Book is here to take the black and white out of the feminist porn debates.
Hopefully the feminist community is over the Sex Wars of the 1970s and '80s. That's when people were forced to decide between identifying as anti-porn and labeled sex-negative or identifying as sex-positive and being labeled pro-porn and pro-all of the porn industry. By now, we should be able to admit that some pornography can be detrimental to folks that don’t fall into hegemonic ideals, but that putting bodies that “deviate” from mainstream standards of beauty on screen is inherently a feminist act—and putting those bodies in porn can be subversive, liberating, and exciting. In the words of hip-hop feminist theorist Joan Morgan, hopefully we have found a feminism that is “brave enough to fuck with the grays.”
The Feminist Porn Book explores the grays of the erotic film industry, focusing on how pornography can be used to further the movement. In the words of editors Tristan Taormino, Celine Parrenas Shimizu, Constance Penley, and Mireille Miller-Young, feminist porn is aware that its likely viewers want to see “active desire, consent, real orgasms, power, and agency—and doesn’t want to see: passitivity, stereotypes, coercion, or fake orgasms.” At the same time that it wants to challenge dominate views of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and beauty, feminist porn also
“acknowledges that identities are socially situated and that sexuality has the power to discipline, punish, and subjugate, that unruliness may involve producing images that seem oppressive, degrading or violent. Feminist porn does not shy away from the darker shades of women’s fantasies. It creates a space for realizing the contradictory ways in which our fantasies do not always line up with our politics or ideas of who we think we are.”
In short, the feminist porn movement allows for its creators, performers, and viewers to explore whatever fantasy they wish in consensual, erotic, and challenging ways.
Not only does the book challenge readers intellectually, it also introduces them to new and innovative films. For example, Tristan Taormino asked performers from one film what other stars with whom they would most like to work. Taormino picked an actress who chose another porn star to invite, then those two stars met and chose a third and that group came to consensus on who they all wanted to bang. The result was a weekend-long retreat for the cast and crew and a movie called Chemistry. It sounds like what the set of that new Judd Apatow movie about the apocalypse would be like—but with sex.
The book is comprised of essays from people inside the industry and they have crafted essays that explain their narrative. In this excerpt, genderqueer porn star Jiz Lee explains how they got into porn, what it has taught them, and what they get out of it. They describe their experience of occupying a fluid space no internet hashtag can contain and finding ways to make identity expression a tool for not only self-discovery but for playfulness and pleasure.