Features: Porn – We Want It! We Love It! by Ronete Cohen (Part 1)

Porn. We all have our preferences. But are we also open and honest about them? What do we really like? Ronete Cohen, psychologist and psychotherapist, investigates the ultimate female turn on.

A bisexual 44 year old mother of 2 writes, “I think it is fair to say most people would not expect me to watch the porn I watch. I watch a lot of lesbian and gay porn. Actually when I start to write about it I realise there is not much porn I don’t like! Anal, threesomes, orgies, pissing, masturbation.” This is just one reply of several that I received when I asked women to confide in me about the porn they like. Is it what you expected or are you surprised?

What do we like? I asked women who sell porn. Nan Kinney of Fatale Media is a lesbian porn pioneer. “When we first started with On Our Backs and Fatale Media,” she says, “there was literally nothing out there as far as erotica and porn that depicted lesbian sex, that showed what we looked like and what we were doing, that we could relate to. It was all pretty much girl on girl porn, all very feminine women, doing sexual things to each other, not really relating to each other, but kind of doing it for the male view.” Suburban Dykes, an early bestselling video, worked because there was real chemistry between the women: they showed feelings in a believable way. “Women don’t like faked orgasms,” Nan says. “They can tell.” Of course we can! “I’m bi and it’s really off-putting to see fake FF sex,” one woman writes. “I tend to steer away from the US ‘wearing lots of makeup’ stuff. I don’t fancy women like that, I don’t look like that, and it often has obviously faked sex.” Another woman writes, “Because I’m a sex worker, clients sometimes want to watch porn with me, but mostly that’s vanilla girl/girl and I have to stifle yawns.” For some, it’s even more difficult to find something that caters to their tastes. “Even though I’m bi, I don’t tend to watch lesbian porn alone – I’d rather rely on my memories/fantasies and a lot of lesbian porn seems either inauthentic (long fingernailed lesbians), or features butch women (I fancy femmes). When watching porn I tend to put myself in the female role. I do watch kinky lesbian porn, generally imagining myself in the role of the woman being ‘violated’.”

Nan Kinney remembers how, 25-30 years ago, women who dared to get a porn movie or magazine, could only find things that weren’t geared to them at all. As a result, many women believed that they didn’t like porn: after all, they had looked at it and didn’t like it. But things have changed, Nan says. “It’s taken many years for there to be at least a few women pornographers or producers of pornography who were making images and movies that women can relate to, that has their point of view in mind, that’s geared towards their pleasure. And there’s still just a little bit of it, but at least there is some. Women these days can go out and find a movie by Petra Joy or Candida Royale that’s centred around the woman’s pleasure and maybe they’ll be able to like it.”

When I first started researching this article (my third on the subject of women and porn), I kept coming across the term “female-friendly porn”. It didn’t fit what most other women told me about what they like to watch. Jennifer Pritchett, the owner of Smitten Kitten, a progressive retailer of sex toys that specialises in ethically produced porn, is happy that I’m pursuing this story from a more nuanced perspective. “I personally think it does everyone, not just women, a disservice to trivialise and distil our incredible diversity into an over-simplified ‘women like soft core or ‘couples’ porn only’,” she says. She thinks that this serves a greater cultural need to inhibit women’s true sexual power and choice.

But not all of us allow ourselves to be inhibited. Fatale Media is an online lesbian DVD store. Would you be surprised if I told you that its current bestselling DVD is Bend Over Boyfriend, a very sexy how-to film that shows women anally penetrating men with strap-ons? It was produced by Jackie Strano and her partner Shar Rednour. Jackie is the Executive Vice President of Good Vibrations, the sex-positive San Francisco-based retailer. “Bestselling porn for us,” she says, “has been features with good production values and great chemistry with well-known performers, explicit sex education movies, and alternative independent features.”

Carlyle Jansen is the founder of Good For Her, the Toronto sex toy and adult DVD retailer that started the Feminist Porn Awards in 2006. She agrees that women’s sexuality doesn’t reflect the gender of the porn they watch. “Our fantasies aren’t politically correct,” she says. They aren’t necessarily what we want to do in real life. One of the world’s worst kept secret is that many women – straight, bisexual or lesbian – like gay (male) porn. Carlyle finds that there’s a raw authenticity to it and no one seems to be taken advantage of. “They seem to both be enjoying themselves, and that’s what we’re looking for. Whether someone’s giving you oral sex, or they’re flogging you, or they’re using a strap on or a vibrator, or they’re teasing you… whatever it is, as long as it looks like the person is having a good time.”

Part 2

© Ronete Cohen

Links:
Courtney Trouble: http://courtneytrouble.com
Good For Her: www.goodforher.com
The Smitten Kitten: smittenkittenonline.com
Crashpad Series: crashpadseries.com
Pink Label TV: pinklabel.tv
Good Vibrations: www.goodvibes.com
Fatale Media: www.fatalemedia.com
Emily Dubberley: www.dubberley.com

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