Ladyporn Day! Women Speak Out About Porn
"I love porn, the more hardcore the better. Costumed, stylized, fake, major genital zoom-ins""I want porn with some dang romance! I want to watch The Notebook with just a lot more skin involved!""I have a love/hate relationship with porn. Sometimes it makes me nauseous and other times makes me feel inadequate about my own sex practices. I have to find specific stories in order to enjoy."These are just a few of the perspectives women are sharing on their relationship with porn, thanks to the first annual Ladyporn Day.For decades, pornography has been thought of mostly as a man's game. But Rachel Rabbit White, sex journalist and blogger, has set out to change that with an online movement/forum/twitter debate on how women experience pornography. Technically falling on Feb. 22, but celebrated all week-long on White's blog, Rabbit Write, Ladyporn day was created to "open up a dialogue about women and porn," White, 26, says.The "day" has included a Twitter discussion organized at #ladypornday, a series of "porn secrets" ( like those above), where women's anonymous thoughts about pornography have been overlaid on vintage soft core porn photos, and something White has deemed the Jilling Hall of Fame, where women share their favorite porn sites."It can be a really daunting place to think you have to start [looking for porn] on Google. To think we have to be ok with just that kind of porn is daunting. It's important to know that there is porn for women being made out there," White, who is pictured below, says.But Ladyporn Day isn't necessarily about female-friendly porn appreciation. It's about discussing how women feel about porn. Whether they love it, whether they wished it were more geared towards their desires, whether they feel it's de facto degrading -- all views are welcome within the Ladyporn Day discussion, White says.The Porn Secrets aspect of Ladyporn Day involves sharing an array of viewpoints on women and porn. One woman writes on how porn helped her realize that "men truly don't only want skinny girls. In porn there are girls of literally every body type, and the men seem to think they're all beautiful." Another woman feels the opposite, writing: "porn makes me feel inadequate, ugly, and unsexy.""We're socialized as women not to own our own desires, to not like porn. There's also a lot of anti-porn feminists from the second wave of feminism in the 1970s who say that porn is wrong and porn is degrading. While I want to totally empower women who already like porn or want to find porn they like, I don't want to erase the voices of women who don't like it. That's an important push-back to have as well. Ideally, this day is for people who do and do not like pornbecause it's about the discussion."A Man's World and Female Friendly PornThe rocky history of women and porn traces back in part to the fact that pornography has been predominantly made for and by men, with the implicit assumption that porn is not something that women should or will enjoy, White notes.Though more women have become outspoken about enjoying pornography in recent years, the porn industry is still overwhelmingly male-driven, which can make it difficult for women to find "female friendly" porn that they enjoy, says Duana Welch, psychologist, relationship columnist, and author of lovesciencemedia.com.Research shows that a typical woman's fantasy has to do with just one man who shows love, commitment, and showers the woman with adoration, she says."The relationship has to have a role that is equivalent to the role of sex. It's the man who swears his undying love and devotion, sweeps her off her feet and gives her the best orgasm she's ever had. If a Pride and Prejudice movie had really hot sex thrown in, if that existed as a porno, it would sell for decades," she adds.Given that many women, though not all, report that kind of relationship-driven plotline fantasy, one has only to look at the incredibly visual, non-plot-line nature of the vast majority of pornography to see that it's a male-oriented industry, Welch says. "What you see is the typical male fantasy brought to life."Though porn for men often fuels a fantasy of extreme sexual behavior that the viewer has no real-life access to, for women, an ability to recognize their own experience and identify with the porn was key for many woman's enjoyment of pornographic material says Clarissa Smith, a professor Sexual Cultures, University of Sunderland, UK.And while there are some women, as evidenced from some http://Rachel-Starr.easyxblogs.com - http://Rachel-Starr.easyxblogs.com - of the posters on the Ladyporn Day webpage that definitely enjoy the kind of supposedly male-oriented pornography that pervades the market, there is a growing, though very small, number of women making porn for women, White says. She hopes with the Jilling Wall of Fame to increase access and exposure to this kind of "female friendly" porn.The Darker Side of the IndustryBut the promotion of pornography, even in the interest of female empowerment, is not always greeted with support from certain branches of feminism."This is a distraction to take our eyes off what's really going on, which is the increasingly brutal nature of the porn that men are using," says Gail Dines, feminist and anti-pornography activist, who continues to argue this latter point in her book "Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality."Consistent with the second-wave feminism views that porn is generally inherently degrading to women and damaging to gender relations, Dines argues that even women who consume porn often don't realize the extent of the violence and hard-coreness in a lot of the porn out there as they are seeking out female-friendly porn."There are some women making pornography, but they're not really bleeps on the industry map. What I'm more concerned with is the type of porn that most men watch when they're alone," she says.And given the often female-exploitive nature of the porn industry, Dines says that though she doesn't doubt that some women enjoy mainstream porn, it is "anti-feminist" to consume it."I think women watching porn is buying into the porn industry and the dominant view of culture. It's disregarding the condition of women's lives -- those women who for whatever reason have to make their living by getting penetrated on camera -- for the sake of an orgasm," she says.But this type of hard-core, arguably female-degrading porn, isn't the entire industry, argues Smith. Critics of pornography tend to focus on "gonzo, down and dirty" porn, she says, but this is "a small but very visible niche of the porn industry," she says. "Women who engage in porn because they enjoy it recognize the differences."