Inside The Feminist Porn Conference

Topping off a week of fisting workshops, feminist porn screenings and the Feminist Porn Awards, The 2nd Annual Feminist Porn Conference began this morning with so many enticing panels we could barely choose between them. The allure of the programming, not to mention the crowd, is that it’s driven by people who DO IT instead of those merely writing and theorizing about it.

We started with Jiz Lee and Shine Louise Houston‘s “More Buck For Your Bang,” an incredibly useful “biz track” session which offered online marketing advice to auteurs and performers to maximize their pervy earning potential. Next, we headed to “Pornographers Without Borders”, a transnational look at feminist pornography moderated by renowned porn academic Constance Penley.

UK fetish pornographer and performer Pandora Blake caught our ear when she spoke about geographical and ideological borders within feminist porn. She specializes in spanking porn and sees her fetish work as distinct because it does not feature penetrative sex unlike the majority of the porn shared at the conference and screening. Blake articulated how these differences place her in a tenuous position in the world of UK fetish porn and within the feminist porn community, but because spanking is “ubiquitous” amongst a certain class of people in the UK and not considered as obscene as other types of BDSM, she has a broader platform to disseminate ideas about ethical porn production and feminist porn in general.

Jennifer Lyon Bell, director of Silver Shoes, awarded Movie of the Year at last night’s Feminist Porn Awards, discussed the sexual mores of The Netherlands and how the cultural atmosphere contributes positively to porn production in Amsterdam. Ms. Naughty discussed the rigid porn laws in Australia (no female ejaculation or golden showers!), and she showed us a clip of her work with a lovely actress who will make a prominent Game of Thrones appearance this season. After being against pornography in her youth, French director Ovidie talked about how she got into porn after seeing women so sexually empowered onscreen. She won Best Direction last night at the Feminist Porn Awards for her film Liberte Sexuelle.

Next, we hit up “Sexual Consumption, Labor & Expressions by Women of Color,” featuring Mireille Miller-Young, Tanesha HD, April Flores, and Akio Maroon. By way of video, UCSB professor and activist Miller-Young began by outlining the “deep forms of fear and loathing…and desire bound up with women of color’s bodies” which stem from historical exploitation and abuse from hundreds of years of colonialism and slavery. She continued by explaining that women of color’s bodies are treated like “a kind of public property” which allows anyone to talk about them or use them how they wish. Given this history, she asked “how do we actually claim desire or claim it in sex work, in the sex industry?”

Tanesha HD, a burlesque performer and sex educator, spoke about how porn fueled her sexual education and personal discovery. She believes feminist porn allows for diverse iterations of women of color’s sexuality by neither confirming stereotypes nor merely standing in opposition to them. April Flores, famous for her BBW films, admitted that she has been more body-driven in her work instead of focusing explicitly on race until recently, and discussed society’s views of latinas as “the maid or the whore”. She purposefully chose a Spanish stage name to help recontextualize how latinas are represented in porn and to own how she is portrayed onscreen.

Akio Maroon, activist, advocate and nurse, closed the session delving into her experiences as a sex positive, queer black mother and sex worker’s rights advocate. She emphasized that racism, colonialism and sexism cannot be separated for women of color. This sparked a dialogue with the audience about amplifying the voices of sex workers of color and racial inequalities within the conference and the sex positive community as a whole.

The day ended with an epic keynote by Lisa Duggan, professor, author, and feminist activist, who spoke movingly about working against the anti-porn feminists and the Republic Party in the early 1980’s, decriminalizing sex work, dismantling the prison-industrial complex, the capitalist agenda within Fifty Shades of Grey, communal pleasure, and building a sustainable system to support feminist porn community!

Looking forward to doing it all over again tomorrow…