The Feminist Porn Book collects essays that explore a grassroots movement that challenging traditional perspectives on pornography and feminism.
What inspired this collection and how did you choose who to include?
Celine Parrenas Shimizu: Our inspiration was the large constellation of feminist engagements with pornography out there that were not collected in one book. A central goal for us is to bring together “sex workers in industry and academe” in conversation—so as to capture the multiplicities of feminist porn as practices of labor, as a genre of film, as part of a billion-dollar industry, as an independent filmmaking practice, as community-building, archive-making, and social critique.
Mireille Miller-Young: We used a dual approach of distributing a public call for papers and soliciting contributions from sex workers, sex activists, filmmakers, and academics who we know are involved in, connected to, or researching the feminist porn movement. Many of the authors are people we have been in conversation with for years: as invited guests to our classes, as collaborators on our projects, or in my case, as people that are featured in our research, such as Sinnamon Love.
In the end, we had too many fantastic submissions to include them all, and we have ideas for even more, which means we may have to consider an expanded second edition or second volume in the future.
How much editorial control did you have over the content of the writers’ essays?
Constance Penley: We had a great deal of control over the content of the writers’ essays. Everyone worked hard, pornographers and professors alike, to make each contribution succinct, readable, and the point—well supported with research, fieldwork, and informed testimony. Our only editorial problem was arriving at the right length to keep the book readable and affordable. Size does matter.
Lots of different definitions of “feminist porn” are offered throughout the book, but one of the most common is that it is ethical, or “fair trade and organic”. Do you also see an increase of male interest in more ethical porn?
Tristan Taormino: We’ve seen an increased interest in ethically-made porn from people of all genders. Just as people want to know their toys or clothes were produced under fair labor practices, there is a growing community of viewers who want to know performers are treated with respect, paid a fair wage, and fully engaged in their work.
Your question raises another important point: feminist porn is not just concerned with female viewers or representations of female sexuality. Although it prioritizes creating diverse images of women’s desire, fantasy, pleasure, and orgasm which are often missing in lots of mainstream porn, feminist porn also works to dismantle gender binaries and challenge one-dimensional representations of everyone’s sexuality, including male sexuality.
Where do you see feminist porn headed in the near future?
Constance Penley: The voices represented in The Feminist Porn Book are part of a growing grassroots movement of porn researchers and makers, sex educators and communicators, sex geeks and activists. We are pro-sex, anti-censorship feminists seeking to build on the four-decade long effort to criticize sexism and racism in both mainstream and adult filmmaking while creating new possibilities for sexually explicit representation and the labor that produces it. Our hope, our dream, is that feminist porn can help to shift the stigma on sex in our politics and everyday lives.