The Halli Casser-Jayne Show has an extraordinary segment waiting for you this Wednesday, June 6, 3 pm, and this Thursday, June 7, 9 pm EST: ADULT ENTERTAINMENT AND THE NEW FEMINIST WAVE. Yes, we’re exploring pornography and women. And, yes, some of you might be horrified. We hope that most of you (women and men alike) will tune in with an open-mind for a riveting hour of talk radio at its best. (Check out the show page on this site for further information.)
In the spirit of the upcoming show, I am going to post a piece that originally ran on Huffington Post. It explores a topic we will discuss Wednesday and Thursday. Some thoughts on the subject: HOW I WILL TELL MY DAUGHTERS I WORK IN PORN, by porn star Erika Lust.
Of all the interesting points this article brings up, I’m stuck on this one: “I truly believe that if I were a man, I wouldn’t receive the constant moral questioning I referred to initially: about what my parents think and how I’m going to tell my girls, but we already know that being a woman, even today, has it’s ups and downs.”
The writer of the piece, Erika Lust, is talking about working in the porn industry, but isn’t this constant moral questioning part and parcel of the experience of the everyday American woman? Whether we’re writing and directing feminist adult films or working two jobs to make ends meet, there are always the questions: what are you wearing? Who are you sleeping with? Are you setting the “right” example for your daughters (though please don’t ask what the “right” example is — it does tend to make the boys uncomfortable, unpleasant, or both). If the Republican Penis Brigade has their way, those questions will be more than just awkward conversational pitfalls or implications sent along silently on judgmental looks. They’ll be government-mandated “confessions” with government-mandated “solutions,” and I don’t think we need to see that on the silver screen (X-Rated or not) to get why it’s terrifying.
There’s always something to learn from the things we don’t (or, more accurately, WON’T) talk about. This week’s Halli Casser-Jayne Show is all about feminism, porn, and how those two concepts can work beautifully together; join us on Wednesday, and see what you can learn from this taboo that we, as a society, are really old enough to grow out of.
HOW I WILL TELL MY DAUGHTERS I WORK IN PORN, by ERIKA LUST
When people around me learn of my profession, they immediately start asking morbid questions. And even if they’re liberal people, they all ask the same thing: how did you tell your parents and how are you going to tell your daughters? I realize that I have a controversial profession: I’ve written books about sex and feminism, and I also write, produce and direct porn for women.
The feminine voice is marginal in the discourse of porn, which has been expressed in masculine (and often chauvinist) terms for more than four decades. But in these last few years, other young directors and I have successfully demonstrated that another kind of adult film is possible: one where the woman is the protagonist and her pleasure has importance, where the roles that represent us aren’t those of the prostitute, Lolita, nurse, babysitter, nymphomaniac… where, finally, the men aren’t the stereotype of the f–king machine, where the styling and the locations make sense, where there are stories about feelings and passion, where the sex (although explicit) is human and beautiful, and not gynecological or athletic. We are successfully producing porn that is a pleasing experience in both aesthetics and ethics, so far beyond traditional porn, which is so often offensive, violent and displeasing.
I truly believe that if I were a man, I wouldn’t receive the constant moral questioning I referred to initially: about what my parents think and how I’m going to tell my girls, but we already know that being a woman, even today, has it’s ups and downs. I think that I was even judging myself at first, and because of it I had to resist telling my parents, who live in Stockholm, while I was safely away in Barcelona. But they had Internet and my mother, who I had believed incapable of using Google at 70 years old, searched for “Erika Lust” and forced it to come out. But both she and my father surprised me with a very positive reaction, and showed me they understood that there was a very important, very radical difference between my work and traditional porn. They would certainly have been more comfortable if I’d been a lawyer, professor or architect — at least it would have been easier to talk about their daughter’s work with their friends.
Regarding my daughters, I have to admit that I haven’t thought about it at all, since the oldest is four and the youngest is one. But I feel that when the moment arrives, there won’t be a problem: My work is honest, innovative and has a cause. Not only for the content and message of the movies I make, but also because the sex-positive feminism with which I identify, and which defends the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component to women’s rights. And I think porn that is intelligent, respectful of women, contemporary and thoughtful actually contributes to women’s full sexual liberation.
Society is always trying to control and oversee our sexuality, as it does with everything else. Sometimes it’s the state, many times it’s the church, sometimes the more radical feminists, the conservatives and the male chauvinists; all have their motives for controlling us. Their objective is to limit our sexuality to family and reproduction, with the intention that sex should never seem fun; should it, we become dangerous and unworthy of respect in their eyes.
Many times pornography is accused of being the lowest product of society, and of transmitting the worst values; but we shouldn’t forget about television, cinema, advertising, fashion, all of which quite often transmit negative messages about a woman’s body and breed confusion about gender and sexuality.
Fathers, mothers, teachers, aunts, friends, grandmothers, all of these in fact transmit values about sex and gender to children. We must all (including those in porn) think about what we say and how we say it, until the end of their childhood or early adolescence.
I want my daughters to learn that sex is life and pleasure, not just the risk of disease and unwanted pregnancy. I will tell them that I am a writer and director of films, and this my movies talk about love, about men and women who desire each other, about passion and sex. And of course I have to tell them what sex is, but this isn’t just me, it’s all of the fathers and mothers in the world! If we learn to explain what sex is to our children tactfully and in a natural, intelligent manner, we avoid that first explanation being from Nacho Vidal or Rocco Sifreddi. Or in the case of my friend, from Google, when her eight-year-old son and an older friend searched the web for “bitch”.
When they are adolescents and a boyfriend shows them a porn film, I want my daughters to be able to decide what they like and what they don’t: to be critical, to laugh if necessary, and ideally, to show the boys a different kind of film, one that they prefer instead.