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Authentically Yours: Feminist Porn Gets Political

Earlier this month, I walked into the dungeon of a Toronto sex club where a leather swing hung in the center of the room, suspended by chains. I ran my fingers over the metal, batting my eyelashes in feigned fascination. I had seen everything in this room before, but the young girl I was playing for this scene was completely inexperienced. The door to the dungeon slammed shut and made me jump. There stood Mickey Mod, my dreamy co-star and friend. We had played together off-camera in the past, but never on.

I've been performing in feminist porn for several years, and this year I attended the Ninth Annual Good for Her Feminist Porn Awards and Conference in Toronto. The awards are an opportunity for performers and directors from all over the world to network and shoot content in a five-day summit of workshops, lectures, and press conferences. This was my final shoot of the trip.

The director's vision was for us to act out a sensual kink scene inspired by the most popular fan-fiction in all the land: 50 Shades of Grey. However, dirty talk and rough sex were frowned upon, as the producers were aiming for something more BDSM-light. Still, they were primarily committed to capturing something "authentic."

"You know that when you're in here, you have to do what I say, right?" Mod said in his most dominant voice.

"Yes," was my virginal reply.

"Yes, what?" he demanded, grabbing me by the hair.

"Yes, sir!" I sighed as he bound my wrists with leather cuffs, and tugged my breasts out of my pink lace bra. He twisted my nipples and slapped me lightly. He tugged at my panties next... and then a small voice behind the camera called "Cut!"

"Um, I'm sorry to do this, but could you hold off on the breast-slapping? It's a bit too much," said the director.

"Authenticity": It's one of feminist porn's favorite words. It pops up frequently on Bay Area-based websites such as The Feminist Porn Network and The Crash Pad Series. The Feminist Porn Awards decree that in order for a film to win, it must "depict genuine pleasure, agency, and desire for all performers." But I'm beginning to wonder if "authentic" is just another genre of porn, like "MILF" or "casting couch," that places performers in a box for marketability.

I sometimes find that the watered-down version of porn marketed to women doesn't leave room for every performer to be truly authentic. That's not to say I believe each scene I shoot needs to mirror my authentic sexual desires. Being a performer is about collaboration and being a part of another person's vision. My sexuality doesn't always fit with the scenes I get cast in. I like taboos: cheerleaders, gang-bangs, cum-swapping. I like to be beaten with objects and forced to oink like a pig. But I am proud to say I am also a feminist.

Here's the thing: I am a professional. Performing in porn is a job and I certainly don't need every scene to be the hottest event of my life in order to deliver an engaging performance that can read as "authentic." When I am paid well and respected for my work, I always do a good job.

"The emphasis on authenticity in feminist porn can be problematic," wrote porn performer and activist Arabelle Raphael recently. "It erases the fact that performing is labor and not just 'fun.' The people feminist porn companies hire are sex workers; we make our living creating hot scenes... It's our craft and I am proud of it." Along with Raphael, I fear that the concept of "authenticity" has entered the feminist porn movement into a dangerous game of respectability politics. I would like to see more emphasis placed on fair labor practices than on whether or not I have a "real" orgasm.

My scene partner and I eventually abandoned trying to find the director's idea of acceptable authenticity and focused instead on delivering a top-notch boy/girl porn scene. After the lights and cameras were packed up, we wandered off to a secluded corner of the club to have the filthy playful sex we had been craving for the past three hours. There was cum-swapping, cheerleaders, breast-slapping, and plenty of actual authenticity. It's just too bad no one got to see it.

 
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5 comments
landorf1
landorf1

Surely, Souixsie, you are not saying that porn has to be violent to be hot?

Erin Walter
Erin Walter

Why is this picture always used for sex related stories? Lol. Fatigue.

Galser Marcos
Galser Marcos

Is there any other kind of porn? It's all pretty political.

lurkyreader
lurkyreader

I don´t understand. You´re a professional that doesn´t need to depict her own fantasies all the time, but you didn´t like getting directions because it makes you less authentic? Or was the director complaining that you were not authentic enough? Then I´d get it.

 
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