How Feminists Can Improve the Porn Industry

Special Guest Author<br />Tatiana Von Tauber

Special Guest Author
Tatiana Von Tauber

By Tatiana von Tauber

Feminism drives me crazy. Truthfully, the more feminist stuff I read the more I get stirred into falling for how women never seem to get treated right, how they’re always second class despite all of feminism’s efforts, objectified and “abused” and then I unconsciously start bashing men, which is usually when I realize I’ve fallen for feminist indoctrination again. Isn’t feminism mainly about choice?

One advantage – though sometimes maybe a disadvantage – is that I haven’t been schooled through academic feminism. My philosophy is self made through personal experience and education. As a female I’ve been mistreated, “used and abused”, fucked – both literally and figuratively – underpaid, discredited, viewed as under qualified and overrun by the whole mommyhood-work balance that causes havoc in my daily life. I know very well the realities of femalehood but pointing blame on the porn industry as an aid to the disadvantages women have is disempowering. And stupid.

I willingly gave up career to be a stay at home mom. I like sex. I photograph nude women. I write erotic fiction. I like being a girl and have little fear being looked at as a sexual “object” because to be objectified isn’t the same thing as being looked at. The general philosophy of feminism as I know it equals “fucked up female mentality” **yet I object to female disempowerment based on gender and there is no other word other than “feminist” to define my kind of view of female empowerment.

It seems to me that feminism is stuck on the idea that women can have their cake and eat it too. Feminists never seem to be happy. I’d be better to just say that women can have a sliver of that cake, or the whole thing at different times and offer women some realism. Feminism didn’t give me that sense when I was younger and just because men appear to have it all doesn’t mean they do. I think feminism disregards some the negative realities men deal with in their manhood; men are always bad to women yet we fail to see the ways in which women might be hurting men. That’s simply unfair both ways.

So it bothers me that feminists in general are so wound up about the sex thing and sometimes I fight for the adult industry more than I care to just to smack it to them because while feminists scream gender empowerment and choice, when it comes to sex there’s only judgment.

To quote a superb article from Jezebel dot com:

Feminists talk a lot about owning our bodies and making our own sexual choices, but when it comes to women who choose to work in the sex industry, we tend to get a lot more narrow-minded about it. Just ask Joy King, the Wicked Pictures exec – when she was featured talking about her company on the local news, her son’s best friend’s mother refused to let him come over to play anymore because King was one of “those” women.

Feminists claim patriarchy is the problem but, is it really? How much of it? Aren’t women a part of their own problem? Why do so few want to address that?

The few women who share my sexuality-as-empowerment views happen to be the women in the sex industry. I don’t know much about movie porn but I can offer a lot on porn/erotic photography. For me, when viewing erotic material, the only “threat” I see is that someone else got the job. I know what goes into making those sex pictures, what the girls really look like without Photoshop, the reality of the “dumb-blond” stereotype (which isn’t always true), the reality of the supposed “sexual stimulus” in creating such photos and I know that generally, it’s a job: sex is only the illusionary final product no different than any other regular mainstream entertainment created for money. That’s it. It’s about money and if there was no money in porn, there’d be no porn no matter many men suffered from blue balls.

Porn is entertainment which assumes to stimulate the sexual appetite but for me, it more stimulates my own sense of living a life in and around eroticism which fuels my artistic creativity more than my sex life. I am first and foremost, an artist and to assume I only get a sexual thrill from erotica/porn shows the narrow mindedness people have about it because that’s a subjective view become a mainstream norm simply because the majority jack off to it. Yet, if porn/erotica do stimulate the sexual appetite, why would that be so bad in the first place? Why is sex acceptable only under strict contexts? Clearly we can blame religion but in some ways, hasn’t feminism only continued such ridiculous views?

I think the root of changing some of the misconceptions and negative realities in the adult industry could easily be rectified if more women got into the adult industry: more female photographers, writers, producers, directors, agents, etc. If women want power over men – figuratively and literally – maybe they ought to hit the source and dominate what the men have access to sex wise while nurturing the young females who are impressionable and be sensative to their choices by creating better, healthier work environments in the adult industry. It seems like the most logical compromise between the sexes and a compromise is the only way to achieve a realistic degree of equality and relative satisfaction to all.

If new standards want to be set, can women really expect men to do it in the sex industry? If a woman wants a job to be done a differently way, then she ought to do it herself or at the very least, respect and encourage those who attempt to participate in change from positive, pro-active positions they’re too squimish to participate in themselves. However, to make change by attempting to bash, judge or ban porn only fuels further animosity between the sexes. It helps no one.

** update: my quote statement here, thinking of it now, seems harsher in meaning than I intend. Perhaps it needs a rewrite to “a selfish female mentality” rather than “fucked up female mentality”. Feminism generally isn’t fucked up and I don’t want to throw bad onto something that intends good and has, in many ways, created good. However, female egotism is a “fucked up” state of mind and upon original writing, that’s where my thought was headed.

13 Responses to How Feminists Can Improve the Porn Industry

  1. empirecookie says:

    You can’t be very well read if you think that there is only one “feminism” and that all feminists share the same views on issues such as pornography, the sex trade or whatever. In fact, it is so strange – indeed jarring – to read something that talks about “feminism” as if it just some monolithic thing and without idenitfying who or what they are talking about, that I suspect that you haven’t actually read anything. You just want to set up a straw (wo)man to knock down. Boring.

  2. PT-LawMom says:

    I agree. You cannot call yourself a feminist and support a woman’s right to choose how to live her life if you want to judge on this issue. While you may not agree with her choice to do this, if you believe in choice you must support her on principle.

  3. Tatiana says:

    Your suspicion is narrow, empirecookie.

    Allow me to quote Salman Rushdie: “The only people who see the whole picture are the ones who step out of the frame”. Point being, so many women (not all) have been indoctrinated by feminism that they have limited horizons, specifically with regards to pornographic material. Stating “feminism in general” was intended as to “monotholize” simply because there are too many variations of feminist views; I specifically avoided such discourse. I assumed the intelligent reader would comprehend who or what kind of feminism/feminists I referred to. Your comment, “…without identifying who or what they are talking about” is the jarring aspect here as a well read individual may have been able to fill in the supposed empty blanks. I fail to see how eliminating such would insult. Was it really the non-specifics or the general content itself?

    What seems strange to me is that your assumption of my “uninformed” view and supposed straw man argument was based on a similar generalization scale as you accuse me of, though I provided reference to my points; you provided none.

    Well read and experienced in what is read are two different matters. I am no Sarah Palin with regards to my selection of reading material. Perhaps identifying who I might read or what reading material may broaden my perspective would have made your comment more valuable and less ad hominem. I’m a big girl in that I can admit if I put my foot in my mouth when proven otherwise; you’ve made an unconvincing argument however. I’ll assume you’re better read than I and simply chose not to share that information, which of course, helps no one.

  4. Empire,

    I think that what Tatiana was talking about was “Second Wave” feminism / American Academic Feminism. I got it, but probably because I’m often immersed in such discussions. Fair enough to call her on being a bit un-specific, but I think (hope) most readers understand where she’s coming from.

    One of the limitations of blog writing is that you need to write well, but also keep the reader’s attention span in mind. Had she parsed out First, Second, and Third Wave feminism, discussed the differences and nuances, and then got to her point, a) I would have exercised my editorial privilege to cut it down a bit anyhow, or b) she would have lost the reader before getting to her point.

    Feel free to critique, and your comments are always welcome and enlightening. (In fact, yours in particular are of great value to the discussions that break out here) But, if only as a favor, please be civil to my guest authors. (Rip me to shreds if you like in any language you prefer — just be kind to my guests, if you would).

  5. Terrie says:

    Tatiana, second-wave feminism does try to present feminism as monolithic, so I think your generalizations fit very well. What has always ensured that I reject that viewpoint is that, according to second-wave’s idea of what it means to be a woman in American culture, I’m not actually a woman. Of course, the “feminists” will claim that I’ve simply absorbed the values of the patriarchy and that it’s proof of what a victim I am. Frankly, if my choices are “feminist” or “victim,” I choose to remain a victim. At least the misogynists are honest about thinking they’re better than me.

  6. Meredith says:

    I know you’re mainly talking about second-wave radical feminism, but I thought I’d share a couple of links to third-wave feminists’ points of view for the edification of the audience.

    I think belledame222 does a fantastic job of representing the third-wave sex-positive end of feminism, such as in this post. One of the arguments she makes is that porn, like the manufacture of clothing, dishwashing, etc, is exploitative in specific circumstances, and that it’s more a workers’ rights issue. (This is my paraphrasing.) I think that’s a better way to think about the “problem,” because there definitely is exploitation going on in SOME but not ALL circumstances.

    Also, this book, Yes Means Yes, is a great example of younger feminists who make the case for erotica and pornography that is feminist and pro-woman, that takes a stance against “slut-shaming” and against the narrow-minded vision that porn is only by and for straight men. Many of the authors listed have blogs which are fantastic, including feministing.com and feministe.com/us.

  7. Meredith says:

    Crap, sorry for the broken tag in my first comment!

  8. Fixed the link for you.

    I personally used to love reading Feministe, but somewhere along the line it turned from how you are describing it to merely bitter ranting and poor writing. I think that Feministe has undergone a devolution from Third Wave to Second Wave. Feministing, I’m not sure. I never really enjoyed the writing, so I never got a sense of the author’s voice or philosophy.

  9. Meredith says:

    I think the problem with Feministe is that it went from Lauren and Jill to now Lauren (sometimes), Jill (sometimes–I think the whole new lawyer thing is taking up a lot of her blogging time, as she’s now a NYC associate), and a whole slew of “guest bloggers” who have “diverse” points of view. They’re going for some kind of intersectionality or whatever, but you’re right: it stopped being constructive a while back and is now a spiraling cesspool of bitter. I do still enjoy Lauren/Jill when they do post, which is pretty much my only reason for reading.

    As far as Feministing, I think it also suffers from having too many cooks in the kitchen. There’s not really a unified voice there. I don’t think they’re trying to have a unified voice, but it is rather jarring. I do enjoy Jessica Valenti’s writing in particular though, and her books are awesome. The audience is teenage girls, so it’s not the most sophisticated stuff ever, but she definitely upholds the sex-pos end of stuff. I also met her in person when she came to my university last January (that was pretty controversial on our Catholic, pro-choice-group banning campus) and she’s great, very funny and sharp.

  10. I think the trouble with talking about “feminism” (be it first, second or third wave) is the same as talking about “women” or “men” in broad general terms. Especially in the context of an evolving social and political landscape. As a woman attorney, I too still sometimes meet with the patronizing and dismissive behavior of my male counterparts in the courtroom. But, I’m IN the courtroom. At some point, their sexism loses force and power, and it simply becomes the personal small mindedness of individuals. Annoying perhaps, but hardly menacing. It’s only menacing when those viewpoints so dominate as to keep me out of the courtroom (or anywhere else).

    I too understood Tatiana to be talking about that particular feminism that lives in the rarified air of ivory tower academia. Which, too often, seeks to equate the evils of women as sexual beings with the evils of commerce – especially commerce where not everyone is allowed to participate at all levels. Sex is commercial, and commerce is, by nature, exploitative at some level. But its an exploitation that we need, seek, and enjoy, but not one that we have always been able to participate in. I think a principle point that Tatiana was making is that when women take the reins of the porn industry, we become less subject to it. As architects of porn – be the object male or female – women become participants in creating the images of sexuality and eroticism. Racism, sexism, and all the other isms exist where there is only one voice, one perspective, one hand directing actions. So, I agree with Tatiana that those feminists calling for “an end to pornography” have lost the plot. Outlawing porn does nothing more than cannonize that singular viewpoint of women’s sexuality for all time. The call should be for more porn – and more diverse and varied porn, with more people making the porn, and more portraits of men and women as sexual beings. We may not like everything that gets produced, but as the marketplace of the possible evolves, so too will our our viewpoints, appetites, and self-images.

  11. empirecookie says:

    It’s not a question of not getting it. It’s a question of having to hear yet another person say “feminists think this” and “feminists think that” and perpetuating really classic stereotypes like “feminists never seem to be happy”. Self described Republican intellectual Bill Bennett said virtually the same thing about feminists a couple of months ago when he was talking about why feminists didn’t support Sarah Palin. You dont have to write a dissertation to talk about one aspect of something – you just name it. That way people who may not be familiar with what is actually a broad diversity of opinion and theory understand that, in fact, you are not talking about all feminists, or even all feminist academics.

  12. Tatiana says:

    Ok, empirecookie. Point well made. I tend to group feminism often not because I’m unaware of waves but because the second dominates so much, particularly where I sit, which isn’t a university but a small German town that perhaps to my own failure I sometimes miss the diversities. I cannot even express the kind of *looks* and judgment I get once people learn what I do. In fact, I’ve had unexpected issues with my child’s friends who came to my home and saw my bookcase full of books about sex. Mind you, they’re *philosophy* of sex but all the little German runts only see the word SEX. So they run home and spread the word that oh, X’s mom has sex books in the house! This is where the Jezebel’s quote hit a personal note as often I am one of “those” women. My “feminist” interaction is primarily black or white: conservative women or “porn” stars. I really need to get out of this small town. :-)

    So basically I don’t think it’s a matter of being or not being well read since I was strictly coming from a personal perspective of being in the erotica industry; here, feminism is monolithic.

    I’ll keep your critique in the forefront of my mind the next time I write as I now see where you’re coming from and it holds merit. Giving it a few days of thought I can see how specifics would have enhanced the post.

    That said, Jessica hit the nail on the head that the central point was more about the porn issue, women taking “reins of the porn industry” thus becoming less subject to it… and really liked “architects of porn”.

    Thanks for the links Meredith. I’ll check them out and I appreciate everyone’s comments on this post.

  13. [...] diversity among individuals and the evolution past feminists paved for current ones. (seems empirecookie deserves my admittance that my foot tastes bad in my [...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,928 other followers

%d bloggers like this: