Porn for Women

By Vanessa Butler

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Women love porn & sex, just not what's the norm these days. Read how Fifty Shades of Grey, James Deen, Sex Toys, & Cindy Gallop are changing porno.


Cindy Gallop, an extravagant New Yorker/advertising consultant, dates younger men, preferably those who are still in their early twenties. This preference is something she’s very open about. Not only is she open about her inclinations, she’s open about her sex life, which is something that caused quite a stir at TED2009 in Long Beach, California when she stepped out on stage and said, “When I date younger men, I have sex with younger men. And when I have sex with younger men I encounter very directly and personally the real ramifications of the creeping ubiquity of hardcore pornography in our culture.”

She’s right. There is a huge disconnect between what women want in bed and what is currently being produced in pornography. When we watch a woman being drilled by a man who’s bending her into some risqué Cirque du Soleil position to the point of shrill orgasmic ecstasy, it becomes ingrained in our brains that these are the things we need to do in bed to please our partner, which is not always so. It’s okay to watch pornography with a far-fetched storyline; it’s just that what’s being portrayed on-screen is not what most women want, which is something, it seems, men of a certain age are finding difficult to differentiate.

“At the moment, 99.9 percent of all mainstream mass-market porn is made by men for men,” Gallop explained. I contacted her to ask if she thought it was a good idea for boyfriends to bring porn into the bedroom after a particularly distraught reader wrote in about his botched attempt to watch Let’s Play Anal Twister with his girlfriend. “I have to explain to guys that women like sex and porn, too. But when we get ourselves off, we have to watch the porn that’s made for guys…it’s entirely male-centric in its worldview and it doesn’t take into account at all women’s needs, wants and desires.”

Despite pornography being mass-produced almost immediately after the invention of the camera, it wasn’t until the 1970s that most companies even toyed with the idea of creating porn for the female demographic.

While the erotica industry kept the visually explicit material strictly for the boys, women were climbing the ranks of new media, which eventually led to the 1972 April edition of Cosmopolitan, which contained the now-infamous nude shot of Burt Reynolds on a fur rug as a male centerfold. “At the time, you know, men liked to look at women naked. Well, nobody talked about it, but women liked to look at men naked,” explained Editor Helen Gurley Brown in The Improbable First Century of Cosmopolitan Magazine. “I did.”  

Burt Reynolds, sexual pioneer? Kind of.

After the centerfold hit the shelves, there was an immediate shift in the world of pornography. It was now apparent that women, once thought to be strictly nonvisual creatures, liked to get off to graphic material and couldn’t be quenched by the eager flip of a page in an erotic novel.

Playgirl began publication the following year, promptly selling out its first 600,000 copies. Other women’s magazines around the world began including their own celebrity centerfolds. In 1984, the adult company Femme Productions, run by ex-porn star Candida Royalle, began shooting films specifically with heterosexual women in mind.

“When I’m watching porn trying to get myself off, I have to avoid processing the porn through the lens of female experience,” says Gallop. “By which I mean when I’m watching, I’m thinking, ‘I know that hurts! If she keeps her leg up there one more moment! I know she’s not coming because nothing in that position can conceivably cause her to come!’ and then it’s really hard for me to get off.”

Despite our leaps and bounds since 1972, women still deal with frustrations when watching porn. Yes, there are those who are more inclined to watch what mainstream porn is producing: as of 2003, one out of every three porn site viewers is female, making about 27 percent of porn users women. But despite the spike in women watching online porn, many feel that the strong male gaze imposed by the years of films strictly developed for men since porn’s beginning is hard to shake.

Remarkably, the conversation about women and pornography has been prompted not because of some uprising of sexually frustrated women wanting quality curated porn, but because of Fifty Shades of Grey, a book that was originally written as Twilight fan fiction. Let that one sink in. I would say most, if not all, of my girlfriends who would’ve never indulged me in their sex lives have brought up what kind of sex toys they’re currently using because of the book, and it’s looking like that is a worldwide trend. There’s no denying the desire for more female-oriented pornography now.

But what about the distraught owner of Let’s Play Anal Twister? Should he watch porn with his girlfriend?

“Sadly, guys should totally be able to share porn with their girlfriends, but right now the porn is not the stuff that will incline most girlfriends towards that process. I’m afraid that it may have the complete opposite effect they want it to,” said Gallop.

There are, however, many men and women who are making leaps in the world of porn for women. There is a small but budding branch of pornography loosely referred to as feminist porn, which, according to sex-positive feminist Tristan Taormino, is “porn [that] responds to dominant images with alternative ones and creates its own iconography.”

Whether it’s labeled feminist porn or not, there are films out there that are perfect to introduce to your partner and even, if you’re lucky, watch together.

James Deen

He’s probably the only male porn star you can think of, and there’s a very good reason why: James Deen knows his way around the female body and psyche. Portrayed as a “gateway drug” to porn in the media, James Deen has been in the industry since 2004. He’s been in 1,312 films, which isn’t too shabby, and will be costarring alongside Playboy centerfold Lindsay Lohan in Paul Schrader’s 2012 film The Canyons. The appeal of James Deen is obvious. He doesn’t have the looks of someone who you would usually accept as a male porn star, and he’s known for incredibly passionate scenes ranging from soft and sweet to rough.

MakeLoveNotPorn.TV

“I’m totally biased, but we created makelovenotporn.tv to appeal to both men and women. We are not porn, we are not amateurs, we are real-world sex and therefore these are videos that can absolutely appeal to the both of them. And even though we are 11 weeks old in closed beta, the feedback we’re getting is men saying, ‘Oh my god, I’ve been waiting for a site like this, this is real-world sex my wife and I can watch together.’” – Cindy Gallop

Portrait of a Call Girl

Portrait of a Call Girl, starring Jessie Andrews, is an award-winning pornographic film shot in 2011. It’s basically as mainstream as you’re going to get when it comes to female-friendly pornography. Between its actual acting, strong storyline and elegant cinematography, it’s the perfect film to enjoy as a whole. Some found its storyline a little stereotypical, as it deals with a woman who is struggling with a life in prostitution and has many story arcs that are unfavorable to those who work in the profession, but as a whole it’s an enjoyable piece of cinema. It’s also really great because after you watch Jessie Andrews get screwed, you can go on her Tumblr and see the cute outfits she’s wearing.

Lust Films

Touted as a pioneer in feminist pornography, Erika Lust has been writing and producing some of the most exquisite films out of Barcelona since 2004. The award-winning vignettes entitled Five Hot Stories for Her, created with couples and women in mind, “explore sexuality with courage and originality, giving a fresh perspective on the monotonous world of adult entertainment.” For a taste of what you can expect from Lust’s films, check out the short film Room 33, which was originally included in a project with five other directors.


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