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Feminist Pornography

What Makes Pornography Feminist?


In that same year the magazine On Our Backs began publishing under the banner "Entertainment for the Adventurous Lesbian." As with Clube 90, many of those involved in the creation and production of On Our Backs became outspoken feminist pornographers. Some, like Susie Bright, stuck mostly to print. Others, like the two founders Nan Kinney and Deborah Sundahl went on to produce films.

There are interesting links to be made between the development of feminist porn and the development of what gets called "authentic" lesbian pornography. While mainstream porn had always included so called "girl/girl" scenes these scenes were intended to represent a male fantasy. When magazines like On Our Backs and Bad Attitude and later the lesbian porn production company Fatale Media came on the scene porn consumers for the first time were able to see material made by women who were doing in bed what they were representing on film. Today porn that is identified as feminist represents all kinds of sexualities, and it could be argued that a more fluid approach to sexual orientation in porn is another characteristic of feminist pornography.

In the late 1980s and 1990s the flourishing of 'zine culture and then the introduction of easy to produce websites contributed to a radical shift in representations of sexually explicit imagery. Suddenly the means of production were available to many, and the kinds of print and video pornography being produced reflected a diversity that hadn’t been seen before. Some of this content was self-identified as feminist, much of it wasn’t, but what it all reflected was a focus away from representing desire of a faceless, nameless heterosexual male audience, and toward representing desire as personally experienced by those doing the representing.

It’s this theme of representation that may best tie together the newest group of pornographers who identify, or are identified as, feminist. Pornographers including Tristan Taormino, Shine Louise Houston, Buck Angel, and many others are all creating pornography that is diverse in its content and production, but all has one thing in common; a desire to represent something genuine about people being sexual and about sexual pleasure.

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