GUEST POST: Feminist Porn and a Writer from New York

This is a guest post from Pamflet’s friend Hannah!

Before I was in a steady relationship I had never watched porn, I never thought to. I had read lots about sex: teen fiction, novels, women’s magazines and online, but my only encounters with porn interfaces were gaudy and flashing side bars – big tit blondes with their legs spread, Asian fetish sites – whatever your ‘category’ type, these were screens from which to recoil.

That it was my boyfriend who introduced me to the possibility of porn without shame is ironic, or at least mistimed – I could have done with the recourse far more before. But when we did feel like watching some together, it would have been good to have the recommendations of feminist writer and researcher Anne G. Sabo’s After Pornified to hand. Now I do.

After Pornified, How Women Are Transforming Pornography and Why it Really Matters (Zero, October 2012) is an instructive title, and references US journalist Pamela Paul’s Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families (2005), which focused solely on negative aspects of society’s hypersexualisation.

Anna Sabo's After Pornified

Anna Sabo’s After Pornified

Sabo writes straightforwardly about directors who are revising the idea and the images of porn, to make explicit content more realistic, sexually democratic and inclusive of feminine points of view. Another recent Zero Books release, Levitate the Primate (a more dubious title) by Michael Thomsen, meanwhile openly talks about male sexual experience from a personal perspective.

Levitate the Primate

Michael Thomsen’s Levitate the Primate

Sabo charts a counter current in porn production: namely, to please girls. She summarises the work of feminist filmmakers who are creating porn or erotica that represents something other than brute cocks, Barbie-like nubiles, tan in-a-can torsos, or worse, soft-focus ‘X-Art’. Directors that present relatable characters; that objectify the male body in equal dose to the female.

Thomas Ruff porn painting

Thomas Ruff manipulates and texturises pornographic images sourced from the Web in his Nudes series

With the admission that writing about sex is like dancing around architecture, New York writer Michael Thomsen meanwhile talks openly about his attitudes and anxieties towards sex and its relational paraphernalia, grounded in the viewpoint of a thirty-something heterosexual male.

At times Thomsen’s episodes, told in the short space of his past columns for the website Nerve read like a Brooklyn boy’s version of Girls – the unsavoury sexual encounters of a man about town, full of awkward moments, failed orgasm and honest flab. Both writers succeed in an honest discussion of sex, refusing to let their writing around such topics be repressed. Read Hannah Gregory’s full article here.

Hannah Gregory writes on art, literature, sounds and cities. Her website is hannah-gregory.tumblr.com

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