I Love Porn -- Now Where Can I Find Some That's Not About "Sluts" Getting “Slayed” and “Torn up”?

More and more women are tuning in to porn, so why is so much of it still so misogynistic?

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“Want to watch porn tonight?”

“Yes!”

We settle in, pulling up one of the many aggregator sites available for people like us, looking to find some attractive strangers we want to watch get down. Let the good times begin! You might think that clearing that initial hurdle—deciding to watch porn together—would smooth the path from here on out, but man, do we have some tough decisions ahead.

Choosing porn for myself can be hard enough. By the time I’m done sifting out the “slut,” “bitch,” “whore” lingo, the violent overtones, the obvious and frustrating emphasis on exclusively male pleasure, the plasticized, bronzed, hairless porn performers, whatever mood I was rocking when I started has probably evaporated. How can I pick what to watch without feeling like I’m condoning all of the sexist hoopla draped all over the majority of videos I might choose? Masturbation isn’t supposed to be this morally fraught, right?

Choosing porn with a partner adds an extra treacherous layer of complication. What if he doesn’t like what I like? What if he judges my choices? What if he’s into some weird stuff? What if he thinks I’m into some weird stuff? How do we navigate this misogynistic minefield and safely and happily find the fun times at the end?

*****

If it’s such a hassle, you might say, why not forgo the pornography parade altogether? It’s pretty simple; I like porn. I think it’s hot to watch other people have sex. When I perform my own little cost benefit analysis, the fun parts of porn consumption outweigh the frustrating path to finding content I want to consume. I’m not alone; studies show that about a third of the porn viewed online is viewed by women. Some surveys even suggest that two thirds of women log on to get off from time to time. The numbers back me up, and so do the stories. I will always remember the first time a female friend confessed, guiltily, that she watched porn. I excitedly whispered, “Me too!” It felt like we were both confessing something shocking and illicit, when in fact, statistically speaking, we might as well be saying, “I like peanut butter.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with pornography. In the words of feminist author Caitlin Moran, “The idea that pornography is intrinsically exploitative and sexist is bizarre: Pornography is just some fucking, after all. The act of having sex isn’t sexist, so there’s no way pornography can be, in itself, inherently misogynistic.” While you may not personally enjoy watching others get it on, recorded sex acts themselves are not the problem. The porn industry, on the other hand, is a whole different beast, and an ugly one at that.

Let’s say you’re in bed with a partner and you’re trying to pick something fun to watch. First up, choosing a category. How do you feel about MILFs? Teen queens? Ghetto girls? Party sluts? Chubsters? Porn is categorized primarily by bucketing the “types” of women featured, and the labels reveal our basest instinct to stereotype.

If you can’t pick a category of performer because they are reductionist at best and racist at worst, try for a particular act. Your choices have just gone from bad to worse. Without getting too graphic, your options consist largely of female genitalia being “destroyed,” “ravaged,” “busted,” “beat up,” “smacked,” “slayed,” and “torn up.” Ouch.

The kicker is that even if the actual content of a video is benign, the packaging conveys how far down the rabbit hole our conceptions of erotica have traveled. The porn gods who want you to click your little heart out learned long ago that they see better results with “Dumb teen slut gets destroyed by mega dick” than “Fun loving adult woman enjoys consensual exploration of sexuality with communicative and generous partner.” Where’s that bucket?

Let’s be clear about one thing: As long as the participants are consenting adults, it’s none of my business or anyone else’s where your pornographic proclivities lie. You like what you like, more power to you for recognizing it. The current structure of the porn industry, however, is one that is so heavily coded in misogyny that to participate in the marketplace at all one has to acknowledge, and to a certain degree accept, the derogatory and demeaning bullshit that comes with it. I just want some videos of attractive people going at it and having a good time, is that so hard?

As it turns out, that might not be such a tall order after all. It seems that pornographers may be catching on to the growing segment of their viewers that happen to identify as female and don’t necessarily love their smut to be ejaculate-soaked and devoid of female pleasure. At this past SXSW, a new version of porn kingpin was crowned when Cindy Gallop conducted her talk on the future of porn. The 53-year-old began her journey toward Internet fame when she launched Make Love Not Porn with a TED Talk in 2009. With the hashtag #realworldsex, Gallop is trying to bring a little joy and realism back into the world of recorded sex acts.

Other pornographers, like Joanna Angel, Tristan Taormino, and Princess Donna, are part of the slowly growing group of women who make porn that I’m not embarrassed to click on. Their clips often begin with candid performer interviews during which the actors are so clearly elated to be participating that I can’t help but absorb a little of their enthusiasm. This is porn to feel good about, grounded in respect and dignity and pursuit of pleasure. That doesn’t mean tame and boring, but it does mean that I don’t have to worry that this 19-year-old in a hotel room in Budapest is too intoxicated to consent.

*****

I’m in bed with someone I like. The laptop’s up and the screen is filled with flesh in various contorted poses. It’s my turn to choose. No matter how hot a video looks from the screenshots that flicker across my screen, I’d really rather not click on links with the word “slut” in them. I don’t want to watch someone writhe in pain. I don’t want anyone to be destroyed, brutalized, or “facialized.” That kind of language adds a little asterisk of guilt—I don’t want to contribute to this culture—to what might otherwise be a good time.

I respect your right to watch whatever gets you going. Personally, I like watching people have fun in all of the various ways people have discovered to enjoy each other. All I’m asking for is a little more of that and a little less destruction.

Role/Reboot regular contributor Emily Heist Moss is a New Englander in love with Chicago, where she works in a tech start-up. She blogs every day about gender, media, politics and sex at Rosie Says, and has written for Jezebel, The Frisky, The Huffington Post and The Good Men Project. Find her on Facebook andTwitter.

 

This article was originally published on Role/Reboot.