Who put this feminism in my porno?

The Feminist Porn Awards recognize adult-film makers who ditch degrading stereotypes of women.

Published April 10, 2008 1:40PM (EDT)

Last weekend, the 2008 Feminist Porn Awards took place in Toronto. Surprisingly, Billy Crystal did not host. The Feminist Porn Awards are the brainchild of Chanelle Gallant, owner of the sex toy shop Good for Her. Gallant was sick of all the degrading stereotypes and boring wank clichés that riddled the genre, and she wanted to promote porn that was more progressive. Thus "Bondage Boob Tube" won for hottest kink film, clinching my win in the Salon office pool.

Of course, "feminist porn" sure does sound like a bit of an oxymoron. As San Francisco sex columnist Violet Blue wrote in a column about the event, "feminism and porn have been like Crisco and condoms for decades -- and feminist positions (ahem) on porn are diverse. They often boil down to the notions that porn is degrading to women, abusive, encourages rape and violence against women, and reinforces sexual domination, coercion and humiliation of women." (Violet Blue is not of this opinion. If you are at all familiar with Violet Blue, this is probably not surprising to you. Perhaps you know Susie Bright. She would disagree with this assessment as well.)

But what, exactly, is feminist porn? According to a story that originally ran in Bitch magazine, "The awards recognize sexually explicit films that fulfill at least two of three criteria: first, a woman is substantially involved with the making of the film; second, the film depicts genuine female pleasure; and third, it expands the range of sexual expression for women by telling us something new about female sexuality."

So we put the central question of that article to you: Can feminism and porn coexist?

By Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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