There are few subjects that elicit such strong reactions as those related to pornography. The stigmatisation of sex workers and sex work in general permeates through our society, a society that consumes more porn than anything else. And it’s not just men. Some statistics say that up to a third of women watch porn regularly – and those are just the women willing to admit it. Porn, as pervasive as it is in our culture, is ironically one of the last taboos. We watch it – but we don’t ever want to talk about it.
There is a growing movement in adult cinema – that of ethical, female-produced, arthouse and feminist filmmaking. Films made with passion, intimacy, creativity and care. Films that represent female sexuality in the way we as women experience it, and not just as a male fantasy. Films that don’t centre on stereotypes, on racism, homophobia, or heteronormative ideas of beauty. Not all porn is made equal – just like any industry, there’s good stuff and bad stuff.
But why should you care? Well, visual stimulation is important for your sex drive. If you’ve found yourself feeling less horny than normal, or you struggle to get aroused, watching adult cinema that features real pleasure, desire and consent can be a delicious and very enjoyable solution. We’ve rounded up five projects that provide unusual work – representative, intersectional, feminist and queer – so that everyone can find something they like.
For more information from trusted sources on sex work, feminist porn and why we should pay for our porn, you can check out the links at the end of the article.
(Parker Marx & Lupa Vaux in Idolotry – image courtesy of Four Chambers Vimeo)
A Four Chambered Heart
Vex Ashley makes (in my opinion) the best adult cinema in the world. Creative, imaginative, arousing for both your body and your mind, A Four Chambered Heart (or Four Chambers) features all films that are written, produced, directed, edited and distributed by Vex herself. You can sign up to her patreon to get access, and watch the more vanilla trailers for the films on her Vimeo (which are breathtaking in their own right).
(Stoya in Hysterical Literature)
This series isn’t so new, but it never gets old. 20 women are asked to read aloud from their favourite book as, unseen under the table, their partner brings them to orgasm. All you can see are their expressions, but watching them attempt to concentrate and keep reading whilst the pleasure builds is unforgettable.
> Watch here <
(Anne DeWinter and Bishop Black in Second Date by Artichoke Films)
Blue Artichoke Films
Blue Artichoke films dedicate themselves to portraying sex and sexuality in a real, emotional way. The best part about their films is how real everything feels, from the shy giggles, to struggling with more complex positions, it always feels like an experience that is close to something you’ve had in real life – which makes it all the more arousing. Award-winning, unmissable erotic cinema.
(Image courtesy of Aorta Films, from the film “W/hole”)
Queer, intersectional, inclusive, sex-positive and all-round brilliant, Aorta Films is a site where you can find people with all kinds of genders, sexualities, bodies, desires and experiences. Beautifully shot, you can see how much these performers really like each other – so much so that it feels almost voyeurisitc!
(Kali Sudhra & Jean Jumel in Spit It Up by Adriana Eskenazi. Image courtesy of Erika Lust Films)
Turning your sexual confessions into a reality for over a decade, Erika Lust, the Swedish indie adult filmmaker, has been making waves across the world with her XConfessions series. Making award-winning short films with high production values and beautiful performers and settings, XConfessions is by far the most popular indie adult cinema platform in the world. Lust also produces films by Guest Directors all over the globe, all of which are available on the site, including work from Bruce LaBruce, Poppy Sanchez and Sadie Lune.
So, do any catch your eye? Can you recommend some other feminist, empowering, ethical adult cinema? Leave us a comment below! And most importantly, emjoy…
Extra reading for sex nerds:
Who Gets to be Sexy? – The New York Times
Why paying for porn makes you a better feminist – Cosmopolitan
Can there be good porn? – Stoya for the The New York Times
The future of female-led porn – Dazed
They, she, he or ze?
One of the first things you need to know about referring to someone with the right pronouns is that you should never assume – but if you get it wrong, it’s okay, it happens. Deliberately getting it wrong is not okay. Whatever their gender identity, a person who frequently is misgendered or referred to with the wrong pronouns will much prefer that you ask (politely) than assume. But this is different for everyone. Also remember that asking someone for their pronouns might unintentionally “out” them. If you’re in a group, maybe you can ask a friend of theirs what pronouns to use – or listen to how they refer to themselves. Whatever the case, isn’t it always better to make someone feel good, than not try at all? Often, those who are gender-fluid or non-binary use “they” and “them” pronouns as in English they are gender neutral. Some people use “ze” or “zey” too. You can also add an x, for example in womxn, Latinx, humxn.
“Queer” has been through a lot. From being a derogative a few decades ago, it’s now a word that encompasses pretty much anything that you want it to encompass. For many, queer is a way of being. It doesn’t reflect a sexual choice, but rather, an outsider-ness from the hegemonic, binary culture we live in. Being “queer” doesn’t mean someone is necessarily gay, but they probably aren’t straight. “Queer culture” embodies everything from being gay, bi or a lesbian, to being pansexual, polyamorous or gender non-conforming. Queer is being anything and everything you want, without the limits of a dichotmous “straight” or “gay” narrative. Check out Queer Eye for more insights but be ready to cry your eyes out, it is phenomenal.
Non-binary, gender fluid, gender non-conforming
I, and many before me, would argue that gender is all performance. The concept of being non-binary or gender fluid is a desire to explore gender identities and expressions outside of the dichotomous “male/female” world we live in. Famous examples would be David Bowie, Peaches, Ezra Miller, Jill Soloway or Prince. What purpose does a stereotype (the alpha male, the weak woman) or cliché serve? Why do men have to be strong and women emotional? It isn’t science – it’s social conditioning, and non-binary folks are making a conscious effort to confront it. Isn’t that the most powerful, brave, political thing you could ever do?
Transgender or transexual?
Transexual usually refers to someone who has transitioned from one sex to another. Transgender refers to a person who feels that their genitalia or their assigned gender at birth does not match with the gender they feel they are. You can be transgender or transexual and use any pronouns, including “they” and “them” – it’s not always that someone transitions from being ‘he’ to ‘she’ or vice versa. For incredibly articulate and insightful discussion on being trans (as well as a world of other subjects), check out Shon Faye, Laverne Cox and Buck Angel. Being trans makes folk vulnerable to violence – whether that is being forced to use a bathroom that doesn’t fit with their gender identity, or being murdered at one of the highest rates within minority communities. Check out the award winning “Tangerine” film shot totally on iPhone that features two of them best performances ever committed to camera.
P.s. Did you know Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” is about real people? You can see a documentary about the people of all genders and sexualities that inspired Reed’s song about taking gender for a wild ride. Contrary to popular belief, being trans isn’t just the latest “trend”.
“Passing” is used to refer to when someone who is transgender, transexual or in drag “passes” as the gender with which they identify, essentially, that when they walk down the street, another person would look at them and assume they were the gender that they identify as.
Cis-gendered or cis
Cis-gendered refers to people who identify with the gender identity that they have been given at birth.
Polyamory, non-monogamy, open relationships and swingers
Three isn’t necessarily a crowd… as we move further and further in time away from the concept of a woman needing to marry in order to secure her finances and keep the bloodline going, more and more people are rejecting not just the idea of happily-ever-after consisting of babies and marriage, but moving towards living sexually and emotionally freer and fuller lives. There are different ways to explore this however, which is where all the different terms come in. Open relationships usually refer to a couple who have sex with other people. Polyamorous people want to have intimate relationships with multiple people. Non-monogamous people tend to reject the idea of monogamy and fluctuate between having open-relationships or being polyamorous. Swingers are couples who like having sex with other couples – whether that is all together, or in a kind of “swap” situation. Although it’s cheesy, “You Me Her” is one of very few instances of seeing a “thruple” (three-way couple) on tv.
Pansexuality encompasses a sexual attraction to all people no matter their gender or genitalia. It is considered by some to be more inclusive than the term “bisexual” as “bi” refers to a binary, and thus implies a sexual attraction to only people identifying within the binary as either male or female.
Kinky & Vanilla
Kinky people enjoy sex that is a little taboo or unusual. In reality, we all have kinks. Having “a thing” for men with beards is actually just a beard fetish – otherwise known as a kink. In the kink world, people refer to those who don’t engage in kink as “vanilla”.
Drag! How much we love drag. You can be a Drag King (a woman dressed as a man) or a Drag Queen (a man dressed as a woman). Drag is political, it is artistic, it is everything you imagine and more. Drag is not just Ru Paul. Drag has been around longer than you think and it will continue until the end of time because it will always have something to say. Generally, people who perform drag are making a comment upon gender – they are messing with your conceptions of how you see their gender identity. Drag was underground for a long time – watch the incredible, heartbreaking, inspiring, beautiful documentary “Paris is Burning” to see where Vogueing and an exploration of gender performance takes some of its roots.
Bondage/Discipline, Domination/Submission and Sadism/Masochism. The world of BDSM is full of endless possibilities, and people who like all kinds of things. Most importantly it is about consent. In fact, those engaging in BDSM tend to have more conversations about consent than “vanilla” people. It makes sense though, right? How are you going to find the person with the same likes and dislikes as you if you don’t talk about it? BDSM is a way of engaging in sexual activities that include (but are not limited to) submission and domination, masochism and sadism. It is as broad a definition and term as the word “sex”. Many have a “safe word” when they engage in BDSM – a word they say when they have had enough and want the session to stop. This is especially useful if you are role-playing. “50 Shades of Grey” isn’t really BDSM, it’s more manipulation and coercion and it doesn’t represent the community in a healthy way. Try “Secretary” instead – soft, but kinky.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and more. Intersex refers to folk whose genitalia have several variations in gender characteristics, i.e. having gonads as well as a vulva, etc. and Asexual folk are those who are less sexual, or completely uninterested in sex. The “+” is to signal that anyone who identifies out of these labels is still included. Because the future is inclusive!
Disagree with anything? Are there any terms that you want us to explore and talk about? Let us know! We always want to do and be better. With love from your queer, pansexual, polyamorous friend at Emjoy.