UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | September 26, 2022

Women make porn positive

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Bow-chicka-bow-wow: porn is a taboo topic, but an open dialogue about it has the potential to make it more female-friendly.

The opinion on Dixie State University campus is that pornography is degrading to women and should not be viewed, but research shows that the erotic media is changing. Could there ever be a safe space created for women to engage in sexuality and erotic media?

I say yes, the sexual climate is changing. According to a study published in November 2014 by the Kinsey Institute “Gender (In)equality in Internet Pornography: A Content Analysis of Popular Pornographic Internet Videos,” power distribution depicted in pornography in the past had been male-dominated. Over time, the shift has gone to women being in more control of the activity. The study also noted that the depiction of non-consensual sex was rare in the 400 videos studied. 

This is not to discount that there are images and videos out there that are revolting and damaging. Fight The New Drug is a campaign that is anti-pornography from the perspective that porn is a public health issue. The organization spreads its message through social media and live presentations about the negative aspects of pornography.

In this aspect, I agree with the  goals of eliminating the harrowing practices that the dark side of the sex industry partakes in. We need to talk about it and obliterate such media and practices.

Karalee Clove, a sophomore general education major from St. George,  said she has heard of Fight The New Drug and thinks it is worthwhile campaign. She said that porn is degrading to the women who are the subjects of the films. 

“It’s good … to be aware that porn has such an influence on people and that it is negatively influencing people,” Clove said. “I think it is good to get that out there so that people will stop using it.”

Clove said porn is discussed within her religion openly with advice not to view porn, and that it has a negative effect on the viewer. 

“For us, it is more normal to talk about not looking at it,” Clove said.

I am happy that there is dialogue about porn and society, but my disagreement with the Fight The New Drug Campaign there is no room to challenge mainstream erotica and make it sex-positive and empowering.

Like a decadent glass of wine or a well-crafted cocktail, erotic media has the potential to be part of a good time. Just like consuming alcohol, erotic images can become detrimental and unhealthy when it alienates a significant other and becomes an addiction.

In an Italian-based article, “Is Female-Friendly Porn The Next Feminist Frontier?” by Ilaria Lonigro, 11 women felt there needed to be pornography that is “free and democratic.” So they problem solved and created 10 short erotic films.

“More pornographic freedom, according to these activists, would help women have better relationships, not just in bed,” writes Longigro.

Iconic Playboy also engages in feminist-leaning writers, according to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review, “Will Feminist Writers Save Playboy?” by Lene Bech Sillesen. The article notes that throughout the decades, Playboy has had a space for feminist writings, especially during the feminist movement during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Sillesen does note that Playboy does continue to push the idea of “traditional” beauty for women, and Cory Jones, senior vice president for digital content for Playboy, said the publication is pro-women, but will not call the publication feminist.  

As for me, erotic images and porn just does not do it for me. I have arrived to this decision on my own, and not just because someone, or my community, told me porn was bad and shameful. I still support viewing and creation of the media in female-friendly forms because I have seen that it can be a positive experience for some women.

A close friend of mine, Tobi Vehrs, made it a goal of hers several years ago to become a SuicideGirl.

SuicideGirls is an online community of nude models and subscribers who pay (members) that celebrates alternative beauty and indie culture. Some of the images are considered soft-core pornography, Vehrs said.

She said that being a part of the SuicideGirls  community has offered a “safe haven” for her and “a place where I’m quite literally able to wear nothing but my own skin and feel more comfortable than I do fully clothed in most public places.”

Vehrs, who identifies as a feminist and a humanist, said there is a fine line between nude modeling and porn, and that line is subjective. She said she is glad the industry is becoming safer and more female-centric.

“I believe the porn industry is definitely headed in the right direction,” Vehrs said. “Many female porn stars have admitted that they are in total control on sets and there have been several laws underway in different states, most recently the lobbies for safer work conditions for exotic dancers and other sex workers in Portland. There’s still a long way to go, but I believe women are in the most powerful place we’ve ever been.”

Vehrs said that for some pornography can be an addiction, or that some people can have a hard time relating to women rather than objectifying them, but she does not think porn is entirely to blame.

“Dressing women in burlap sacks and denying us our sexuality is more degrading than allowing us to be ourselves and embrace it,” Vehrs said.

For Vehrs, it isn’t just about “showing my boobs and looking cute,” she said she appreciates the interaction that she has with members on the website, in person, at conventions and through social media. 

“[The interaction] show them that I’m a real human being,” Vehrs said.

There is still a ways to go with erotica and pornography being considered female-friendly. At least research shows that there is a dialogue opening up and creating a space that allows women to safely participate in a sexual culture.