Porn: Take 2

Hello everyone. I took an unexpected, but much-needed, break from writing. I got walloped by the Depression Stick and it was right in the middle of my researching my porn series for y’all.

Let me back up a little and reintroduce what was going on with me. I had a revelation about what I wanted to do so I pitched to the Almighty Persephone a series of posts on porn; namely my personal preferences, casual investigations into others and their Internet viewing habits and some further discussions regarding female performers, the diversity, or lack thereof, in porn and so much more. In my first post, I discussed my intentions and went off, guns a-blazing, to get cracking. Somewhere along the way, the repeated viewing, reading, discussing and thinking about porn sent me in to a hate-spiral from which I am just now recovering.

I am not going to blame my massive and deep depression on porn. No way! But, I did step away from the Internet, all together, and stopped blogging on my previously much-used Tumblr and stayed away from my usual haunts because I just DIDN’T want to write or be on the Internet. It bummed me out and made me really unhappy. Now, let’s be honest, I suffer from depression and am heavily medicated, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t already in a state, but this was a pretty serious bout. Furthermore, I have been unemployed for almost 3 months and the days and weeks stretch into these endless drones of lots of activity, all based on what I feel is my worth and how I can positively contribute to society.  It’s pretty heavy, demoralizing and yeah, downright depressing. SO”¦ porn wasn’t the sole cause of my depression, let’s be clear, but it sure as shit wasn’t helping. Here’s why.

I am a feminist and I pride myself for being educated and aware of the normal traps of femininity and societal road blocks explicitly set up for women. Yet nothing could prepare me for the massive punch to my self-confidence’s gut, which occurred when I started watching porn frequently. Now, now, I know you’re not supposed to sit day and night, for hours at a time, watching Internet porn, and I didn’t. But I watched more than I have ever before and it started doing in my head. I began to think I wasn’t pretty enough, hot enough, sexy enough, for ANYONE. It sounds absurd, but trust me, it gave me a major case of the sads. And certainly, I am not daft enough to actually believe that I am somehow stronger and BETTER than someone else just because I self-identify as a feminist and think I have to tools to wield my Equality sword and slay the Patriarchy dragon. But I wasn’t expecting my self-esteem to plummet so catastrophically. Also, as I started searching more, I found I was dismayed at the heteronomative works and the lack of diversity found in even lesbian porn. Certainly, after talking and emailing with several people, I was sent to places I had never heard or seen before, which were not of that sort, but what puzzled me was why these things were so inaccessible in the first place.

Lastly, DERP, I realize plenty of people, of all shapes, sizes, preferences, and colors watch porn without any ill-effects to their person, but my question is, HOW? Not like, HOW, because I want to be able to watch porn day and night and not feel like a worthless person, but how can you NOT be affected, for good or bad? Granted, I learned quickly that porn is not a monolithic medium wherein it’s all the same and all performers are the same and all plots are the same, so I may have just cracked the surface but it is still a question I cannot stop asking.

So I ponder and ponder some more. I am back on track and getting back to this series. But, before we get back to it, I wanted to explain my absence.

18 thoughts on “Porn: Take 2”

  1. Well, I kindof feel uncomfortable discussing the issue of whether or not we’re privileged body types. The fact remains a woman can be struck with icky body image crap, regardless of her shape and size.

    The bigger issue, to me, is there porn that is inclusive of multiple body types, and doesn’t fetishize the issue.

    I am researching porn with women of color and have about blown a gasket (not in a good way) with the labelling/fetish way it is depicted.

    1. As I said in response to paperispatient, just because some bodies are more culturally privileged doesn’t mean that the people who live in them can’t have body image issues. It’s just easier for me to relate to a lot of mainstream porn than it is for someone who looks radically different from both myself and from the ideal. Of course, the stuff that Vivid produces still makes me feel icky, but at least I’m not exclusively shown as a fetish, as you point out.

  2. I’m glad you’re willing to have this conversation (and I’m glad you’re feeling better. I have Depression too and I know what utter crap it is.). First I have to ask- what kind of porn are you watching? A lot of people seem to confuse mainstream porn with all porn. Then I have to ask what kind of porn you *want* to be watching. What are your sexual preferences? What are your ‘types’? What do you want from porn?

    I just got into the industry, and I’m trying to change it from the inside out. I used to be adamantly anti-porn until I realized that there is nothing inherently wrong with it- we’ve just neglected it as feminists and allowed it to be taken over by the patriarchal rot that is our culture. My ultimate goal is to make porn that appeals to straight women, and to support the production of feminist porn of any flavor. I love to hear about what people hate about porn and what they want from it.

      1. Oh, I agree that that’s shit. Don’t get me wrong, that’s okay *sometimes* (for the same reason that male-female D/s is okay), but the fact that it’s so prevalent and that any performer of color or substantial size *has* to do fetish porn is way messed up. Among other sites, I really like Nofauxxx (for queer porn) and HeavenlySpire (for straight girl porn) because they’re inclusive without being fetishistic.

  3. I like this post. After some people were arguing around these parts about anti-porn attitudes I did a little bit of thinking and realized that I didn’t feel very good about porn myself. As a sexually active feminist woman I understand that a lot of other women feel empowered by porn and really get off on it. Which makes me feel a little self-conscious and even guilty because whenever I see it it just makes me feel bad. I think if porn works for you, great, but I dislike that some feminists (no one around here necessarily, but other people I’ve come across) argue that if you question the message that porn sends to women then you’re some kind of uptight prude who wants to stifle female sexuality,

  4. I realize plenty of people, of all shapes, sizes, preferences, and colors watch porn without any ill-effects to their person, but my question is, HOW?

    I’ve wondered the same thing as you, because I’ve heard a good amount of women say that porn has affected their self-esteem or made them doubt their attractiveness, but it’s never made me feel that way, and I’ve watched more than my share of it. That’s not meant to be any sort of boast, and I certainly haven’t been immune from some serious body image issues and mild sex-related insecurity issues, but those took shape long before I started watching porn, and porn hasn’t exacerbated them. I do tend to seek out porn that’s outside what I’d call the mainstream, where there’s a more diverse array of body shapes and sizes, but even when I was watching fairly mainstream stuff, I didn’t notice any change in how I felt about my body or my sex appeal, and I can’t really account for why my experience is different than some other women’s.

    I’m glad you’re back and doing better – I was and am looking forward to this series. :)

    1. I am still grappling with it. I don’t feel like I am just sitting here feeling shitty because I don’t look like Stoya. It feels way deeper and frankly, I guess if I was secure in myself, then maybe it wouldn’t matter? I dunno. I’m still working on it and trying to unravel my feelings.

      1. It might not necessarily be an issue of self-esteem or wanting to look like a porn star, but one of not being able to relate to the people you see on screen, because they don’t represent you or your desires. I think once you can find the kind of porn that *does*, your attitude will change. Easier said than done, though, I know.

    2. If that profile picture is really you, that may be a lot of the reason: you have a culturally privileged body type. I do too. As you said, that doesn’t mean we’re immune from body image issues, but it does mean that we can look at women in porn and not feel alienated in ways that, say, a fat, black, physically disabled woman very well might. That’s why I love seeing porn that undermines privilege and has broad appeal, like the stuff by Shine Louise Houston. I’d be interested to hear about the stuff you’ve found that features diverse body types, too!

        1. Oh, that was in response to paperispatient. I think women of color are in a very different position when it comes to representation in both mainstream porn and mainstream media (and I did assume you were of color).

      1. Oh no, that’s Tina Fey in my icon, but I am white, thin, and able-bodied, so you’re right on about me having a privileged body type in multiple ways. Shine Louise Houston was one of the main people I was thinking of, and while I’ve only watched clips/previews from her work (though I have a few of her films on my to-rent/buy mental list), Tristan Taormino seems to make some of the more inclusive movies too. And I think Kink.com is better than some but could be doing even better – there’s more of a range in body type there than on many sites, but I think they could really be even more inclusive, and there’s definitely room for improvement when it comes to featuring people of color. Is there anything else you’d suggest I check out?

        1. Oh! ha. Tina Few. I knew that.

          Tristan is also awesome, and I’m making my porn debut with Kink because I really appreciate how they contextualize their shoots and also how they show female-male D/s relationships. I agree, though, that they could be a lot better about everything from marketing to the diversity of their models.

          I also like the stuff that Ana Span does, Shot with Desire, I Feel Myself/ I Shot Myself, Good Dyke Porn, Lust Films and most of the stuff honored at the Feminist Porn Awards. Sadly, very little of that is for straight women. I’m hoping that will change soon, though.

          1. Aah, that’s AWESOME that you’re going to be working with Kink! I completely agree, I really appreciate how they contextualize their films and make the consent process really explicit, and I like the variety of dynamics they feature. Thanks for the other recommendations, I’ll definitely look into those. And after you’ve done your shoot with Kink (or if you already have), would you be interested in doing an interview for our Frisky Feminist column? You don’t have to answer now, and it’s completely okay if you don’t want to, but I think it could be really cool. :)

            1. Oops- I don’t know why I recommended Crashpad since that’s Shine Louise Houston as well. Anyway, I actually *just* shot with Kink a week ago! I’m writing about the experience now on my blog, but I’d definitely be down to do an interview as well. That would be amazing!

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