The other day I re-reviewed Lust Cinema, which has been a longtime favorite site here at JanesGuide, both with myself and with previous reviewers. After I did that, I got an email from the press office of Erika Lust’s studio with a link to a recent TedX Talk she gave titled “It’s Time for Porn to Change“. I toggled between watching the video, and just listening to the video as I read through the comments below. Many of the comments suggested Ms. Lust was a hypocrite, I guess because it appeared that she didn’t have the same standards for male representation in porn as she did for women. I’m not sure that I would agree with that assessment, although I do agree that there is far greater representation of ALL types of female forms in pornography than there is for all types of male forms. I’m pretty sure that is because there is always a viewer base for every type of porn imaginable, and a good deal of the viewer base is heterosexual male. Pretty much every type of female form, from heavy to thin, from every ethnicity, both able bodied and not, has been fetishized, objectified or just plain lusted after by enough people that money can be made filming it. And maybe that isn’t true of the male form, which is why there is so much less diversity there.

The second time in the talk that she derisively mentioned the “blonde, red-lipped woman in a tight dress with watermelon boobs”, I did have a moment of discomfort – because there is room for that too. If, as she says, porn is a discourse, then there is room for everyone at the table, even those with whom we don’t share sexual preferences or tastes. And while I might think that the only reason a woman has “watermelon boobs” is because she is catering to what men want, I don’t know that to be true. It could be what she wants. Or, it could be what she wants as a commercial choice to be more marketable, but if your chosen profession is porn and you think you can make more by looking a certain way, who am I to say that is wrong? To do so would be to invalidate business choices that person is making based on a chosen profession, and I don’t think I want to go there.

But then I come to my own hypocrisy. I have long been upset by men commenting about performers they find unattractive. I don’t think it’s nice, I think they should just move on if it’s someone they find unappealing, instead of making rude comments about it. And then I was reviewing a site the other day (the site in question isn’t listed yet) and I ran across a male performer that I just found completely not to my taste. Like really bad reaction, ickyness. And I was sitting there trying to figure out how to express what the site was about, without making my own judgments about the performance. The kink of the site was old men with much younger women. I don’t have a particular issue with that one way or the other, I guess with this site, it was just that the models who were with this older guy in the videos just looked sooo uncomfortable, and like they were faking it, and faking it hard just to get through. Total turnoff, to me personally. But then, I like to see people having an actual good time. That’s what I find hot. And I suppose there are people with a kink for girls looking like they are doing something they can’t stand, with someone they don’t wanna be with. I don’t think that kink (if people have it) comes from a particularly great place, but once again, who am I to decide? I have some seriously fucked up fantasies myself, it’s part of the myriad sexual expression that is in all of us inherently sexual beings.

I LOVE Erick Lust’s work. I don’t think her TEDX Talk was particularly groundbreaking as an idea, but I agree with it – more women should be in porn behind the camera, to shape the conversation. That goes for the mainstream film industry as well, something Helen Mirren quite brilliantly brought up in a fairly recent NPR interview. That was one I forwarded to my daughter, who is going to film school now. There need to be more women behind the camera in all areas if we want to have more of a place at the table, and that has been changing ever so slightly for decades now, and I’m sure it will continue to change and evolve. I feel like this generation, my generation of my daughters, is the most outspoken yet – and in part that is because of everything this generation has been able to see online. If you don’t see what’s there, how will you know what you’d say differently?

I think in the end, with the review I was struggling with, I just need to focus on what really did squick me – that it’s never enjoyable to me to watch someone looking like they are about to have to eat a cockroach on Fear Factor, because that is how unappealing the coming act is to them. Just sayin’.

~Jane

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