What Women Want…In Porn?

Susie Bright, in an interview with Salon explains an accidental discovery:

There were about a dozen women in the ’80s who started making their own movies, magazines, images, and we fought against all the naysayers. Then, to everyone’s shock, the women’s erotica movement made significant sales. Into the middle of that mix, came along a filmmaker named Andrew Blake, who did a series of very high-tone, music-video-style X-rated videos. There was no narrative; they were all similar to a very long commercial for luxury goods — with sex in them.

It was just Blake’s thing; he had no particular interest in women viewers. But these movies were wildly popular with women. For all the ranting and raving everyone had made about wanting “a good story,” that turned out to be untrue.

What novice female viewers wanted, without being able to say it, was class-conscious reassurance that one could be a nice, well-dressed, well-kept woman, and indulge in “erotica” while maintaining your dignity and marriageability. Everyone looked like a millionaire in Blake’s movies, and that turned out to be the ticket. Not story, not orgasm, but reassurance that you weren’t a terrible worthless slut to be looking at such things.

I found that discovery enlightening but depressing. I wish women wanted to look at sex stories and movies because of their unapologetic sexual self-interest. Luckily, once many women got through the Andrew Blake gateway, they loosened up and started enjoying other things that were more personal to them.

(via The Dish)

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Juliana Marie

    It triggered a memory – in 1985, I was 22 and shared an apartment and its cable bill with my sister, who was slightly embarrassed that I got us a Playboy TV subscription. I don’t know the name Andrew Blake, but I do remember seeing soft-core productions which resembled what Susie describes in that quote. Playboy TV also showed this fantastic UK show called “Electric Blue” that presented similar fare. Because my exposure to porn (heh heh) had previously been limited to two or three features on video and one very ugly, amateur “stag” film, I think I thought the dreamy-music, fuzzy-lensed videos on Playboy were “normal” porn. I seem to recall thinking the highly-edited, full-length movies (they cut out penetration, penises, & ejaculation scenes) that they showed were “old-fashioned.” In retrospect, the edited movies were probably just as contemporary, I just didn’t know what I was looking at!

  • Kiwi Sauce

    I don’t think I have seen a class-based analysis of female porn before, although I have seen feminist-based critiques – which were always negative.

    I find it fascinating that these were also successful without a story. Porn for pretentious people? :) I am now imagining this is what people who liked the film The Unbearable Lightness of Being would prefer for porn.

  • Francisco Bacopa

    I like amateur porn that probably conforms to feminist standards

    I don’t wanna see:
    Implants. (more self-mutilation than I can tolerate)
    Cumshots. (if you liked what you were doing why did you pull out?)
    Shaved bush. Pubic hair is a hint to further treasures
    Trimmed bush. That’s pokey. Natural bush parts easily.
    Woman sucking a guy to get him hard.

    What I wanna see:
    You get a boner from kissing, cuddling, dry humping, watching American Idol while she rests on your shoulder. Maybe you both have been turned on and off for hours as you have both enjoyed a nice day together. Maybe you’ve had a “no hard feelings” intellectual discussion and both get a little horny. Maybe you’ve had a deep emotional discussion, she got a little damp as she went there and you felt quite a stirring as she shed a tear and you held her. Maybe you confessed part of your deepest inner rage and she understood and held you.

    That’s asking too much of porn. Guess I’d better straighten out a few things and get me a new GF.

  • otrame

    Personally, I much prefer written porn (no possibility of anyone getting abused or exploited) and I really like gay porn. I, a straight 60-something woman, like reading about two guys having sex. Needless to say, there just happens to be a huge amount of exactly that, mostly written by women and mostly read by women. It’s call slash fan fiction. Pick your favorite TV show that has at least 2 guys in it and google it with “fan fiction”. Of course, Sturgeon’s Law applies, as always, but there is some really good stuff out there, from long plotty stories that include explicit sex (“plot and hot”) to plain old PWP (“porn without plot”). And there are A LOT of women reading and writing it.

  • julian

    sorry for the sidetrack

    It’s call slash fan fiction.

    I used to be terrified of slash (m!pregnancy tags still scare) but lately it’s really started to warm up on me (mostly straight male)

    The few ones I’ve read (couple HarryxMalfoy and one silent hill 4 one) seemed pretty faithful to the characters, including in the stories the tensions between them and a semi believable resolution. Is that the norm?

    • otrame

      Like everything, there is a wide variety of quality but in general, I find fan fction is more inventive and truer to the characters than the writers on the shows. And of course the shows don’t generally have much porn. 8-)

      I wish I could remember who to cite here, but someone said “fan fiction exists to correct the problems caused by the fact that our folk stories are created by corporations, and not by folks”. — that is a paraphrase, of course.

      You do have to wade through some crap, of course, but at least you dont have to pay for it. Some of the best writing I’ve seen in years is in fan fiction. I think part of the reason is that the publishing industry has shut down so much. No one takes unsolicited manuscripts any more. If you don’t have an agent, you don’t get published. Also most light fiction is done by a few dozen people who write series and can be depended upon to produce a book a year. Once established, these are “sure thing” sales. But the result is an increasing lack of variety and many many excellent writers who can’t get published. These people often turn to fan fiction, which is fun and where they can get some appreciation for their talent, eve though they can’t get paid.

      Plus, they can write porn fantasies, and everyone loves it. ;-)

      My personal favorite author is Kiera Marcos, who writes unashamed porn with great characters and plots, mostly Stargate:Alantis with an assortment of other fandoms. My favor is an SGA/The Sentinel crossover. I didn’t even care all that much for SGA, though I did like the charaters quite a bit, but I love her work.

  • kerfluffle

    Interesting article but I disagree with the premise. The “millionaire porn” wasn’t a hit with women because it soothed their fears of being dirty but rather because it portrayed their sexuality as luxury, like fine dining. And, like fine dining, everyone was taking their time, appreciating the flavors, and fully focusing on the experience. It was fantasy sex from the perceptive of the female orgasm.


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