Feminist Porn: Rape Fantasties?

FrigginSushi's picture

So I googled "Feminist Porn" and read the first article that came up called "Feminist Porn: Sex, Consent, and Getting Off"

The author talks about a lot of things including her position of sex workers, but specfically what qualifies as Feminist Porn (which she believes exists and puts up links to porn sites).

" Enjoying BDSM, strap-on sex and sex toys, genderplay, rape and incest taboo, mainstream pornography, and other “deviant” sexual taboos with a consensual partner does not make a person a “bad feminist” or a hypocrite. To the contrary, feminism is what gave me permission to love sex, with myself and with others, to embrace my sexual orientation, and find out what turns me on. Pro-sex feminism argues that recognizing the role of fantasy in sexual arousal and coming out of shame about sexual desires opens the door to a more frank and honest discussion about women’s bodies, consent, and safer sex. And that leads to better, safer sexthat encourages communication and complete, enthusiastic consent to sex that is fulfilling and healthy. How is that not feminist?"

If we're defining feminism openingly, then there is an unlimited possiblity of what is feminist porn and what isn't. To this author, who believes in pro-sex feminism, porn should be seen as a tool to encourage open discussions of sex which will lead to "better" sex and views of sex in society. She lists "kinky" types of porn as acceptable and representative of the sort of Feminism Porn she endorses. What I find interesting is that the author also includes "rape" fantasies/taboo as feminist (or atleast not unfeminist) which is something we, as a class and from discussion, would have classified as not feminist at all. I, personally, believe that what someone is sexually attracted to or the type of porn one enjoys does not determine the person. If I like watching lesbian porn, it doesn't make me a lesbian, it's just something that attracts me. But I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that liking rape fantasies or that rape fantasties are feminist. They put women in a submissive, dominated, and abused position as well as promote non-consensual sex.

Does anyone else have opinions on this?

Also, check out the links (or the description of the cites she posted) of the author's examples of feminist porn cites. Do you agree with her choices?


dear.abby's picture

re women and porn youtube video

The guy in the video that bluebox posted made a lot of the same comments regarding feminism that came up in our class on Tuesday. He commented on the fact that superficial variation beyond the white blonde waxed silicone breasted porn star is "fetishized". I have been thinking about this idea of fetishing "diversity" a lot, and I think fetish itself has become so predominant that all pornography has a niche or fetish market, meaning there is no longer such an overwhelming mainstreaming porn market like there might have been 15 or so years ago. Also within so called mainstream porn there is much more diversity than was mentioned in class. This is no longer the era of Jenna Jameson. The biggest female porn star today--Sasha Grey-- is thin, small breasted, and appears to be "ethnic" possibly of hispanic or asian descent.

rayj's picture

TW: rape, rape culture; Fetishization and Rape Fantasy

Two points to touch on. First, I agree with what dear.abby has said about the decline in a very visible "mainstream" female figure in pornography, and that even those white female porn stars do not look like basically any woman I have met, white or not, although I recognize that specific dynamics exist with respect to race and raced bodies of women and power, etc., etc. 

I also came across this article, by Carine M. Mardorossian, entitled "Toward a New Feminist Theory of Rape," which discusses the ways in which feminist discourse, even radical and postmodern feminst theory, cannot or does not theorize rape in the same way other "feminist" issues are problematized. To quote Mardorossian, 

"The kind of theoretical and genealogical scrutiny that other aspects of women’s lives (the body, gender performativity, eating disorders, transgender politics, etc.) have occasioned is remarkably absent from studies of sexual violence. Rape has become academia’s undertheorized and apparently untheorizable issue."

I don;t know what to make of this, and criticism of feminism as not interrogating rape or trying to think of rape in relation to other forms of gendered violence (see, also, this piece by QRG, which discusses feelings of alienation from feminist assault discourse because of a hierarchy of violence that situates rape as supreme). I'm just thinking about this a lot and trying to come to a way of understanding what rape fantasies indicate about our culture and society, at this point, which leads me to thinking about how we talk about rape and how it is theorized and represented. 

bluebox's picture

My thoughts


I searched on tumblr for feminist porn (a dangerous search, I know.)  I found this guy, and he kind of made my day. He says a lot of good things related to this.

On rape fantasies, as long as (in porn) they are all consenting adults, it's fine. Because it's acting. Role-playing isn't anti-feminist, it's just something that turns you on.  Also, men can be raped, too. Men can be put in submissive, dominated, and abused positions, just the same as women can. All it comes down to is people using other people, and people being objectified. As we (kind of) decided in class, if all the participants are consenting adults and all are enjoying genuine pleasure, it's feminist.

FrigginSushi's picture

Re: S. Yaeger

I agree with your points completely. This is why I'm having trouble understanding how it could be feminist. I feel like a lot of what feminism is is being open to others ideas of sexual expression, so rape porn would fall under this kind of feminism. The idea that it's promoting nonconsensual sex to people who watch it also makes me think of the violent video games debate. Just because people are playing violent videos, doens't mean they will be any more likely to be violent in reality.

S. Yaeger's picture

I'm all over the place on the

I'm all over the place on the issue of "rape porn".  On the one hand, it has the potential to glorify non consensual sex and also to "normalize" it in the eyes of the sexual curious, especially young men and women who are turning to porn as a more "in depth" sex education.  It is often vilolent, graphic, and seemingly degrading to its female subject.  Obviously forcing anyone into any sexual activity without their enthusiastic consent is horrible, but then, on the other hand, there's the question of the actors' consent and the fact that fantasies of forced submission are legitimate fantasies that some people  have.  I feel really confused around the idea of de-legitimizing someone's fantasy and potentially making them feel ashamed of their sexuality.  To be clear here, I'm not talking about someone fantasizing about raping someone else, but of people who fantasize about being dominated or forced to have sex.  Are the rules of feminist porn that all the actors have to give their consent, or that all of the characters have to give consent too? I wonder if the only possible solution to this is to have a regulation in place that requires notice of consent at the outset of any film that includes rape, non-consent, or coercion of its subject, much like there is a required notice that all actors in "teen" porn are 18 or older.  I also wonder if the outdated feminist view that all porn is inherently un-feminsit has kept many feminist voices out of the conversation over what is acceptable in porn and if we might not be more effective if we go after specific issues such as this one.

aybala50's picture

I'm not so sure

I understand the discussion as well as the issue of "rape porn". I just can't bring myself to thinking that "rape porn" has any space at the feminist table. The porn industry may allow people to empower themselves, take control of their sex, sexuality etc., however, the porn is not only about those who chose to be in the porn industry. This is a business and the consumer is a large part of what the porn means or what it can be identified as. Can "rape porn" be feminist? Honestly, I just can't bring myself to thinking that creating a porn video that might very likely have negative consequences for both women and men can be feminist. I don't know...

S. Yaeger's picture

The idea that porn that

The idea that porn that portrays forced or coerced sex could promote the idea that consent is unnecessary is the one thing that holds me back from fully embracing the sub-genre as "just another" form of fantasy.  Again, I'm not fully sure of (well anything but) the fact that such porn does or can do that, but not being fully convinced that it doesn't makes me uncomfortable as well.  

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