Every now and then, the mainstream media calls attention to “porn for women,” and Susan Sarandon’s recent declaration that she wants to make porn for a female audience has thrust the topic back into the spotlight. We’ve been a porn site geared towards women for the better part of a decade, and yet we still debate what the inherent qualities of “porn for women” are. Sometimes fans love what we promote and other times we get feedback saying that the movies we review “aren’t for women.” In an attempt to get to the bottom of the issue, HotMoviesforHer staffers Judy Hologram, Andi, Bridget, and Dee Viant attempt to describe “porn for women.”
It’s a tricky question. When I’m selecting movies to promote, I try not to think about what will appeal to just hetero or cisgender women, but porn that might appeal across a broad spectrum of gender and sexuality. I think it’s important not to discount the many different kinds of women, as well as the people of non-binary gender expressions, who consume pornography.
That said, I’m not entirely convinced that “porn for women” is actually a thing. There’s so many different sex acts and ways of filming sex (Close ups of genitalia? Wide, romantic shots? HD? Shitty smartphone camera?) that women can like, that the term has become practically useless. Based on some of the feedback that we’ve gotten, some women police other women’s tastes in pornography. Yes, most of the movies on our site were made by cismen, probably with a male viewership in mind. That doesn’t mean that these movies can’t find a female audience that enthusiastically enjoys the acts and filming styles depicted here. It especially doesn’t mean that it’s cool or helpful to tell other women that our preferences are abnormal and gross, or that “The women I know don’t like such-and-such!”
We all like different things. That’s why there’s lots of different kinds of porn. A world without close-ups of huge cocks DPing an enthusiastically slutty lady is not a world that I want to live in.
This is not to say that we, as viewers, should not be held accountable for what porn we consume. As such, I have a few points for what kind of porn is for, not just women, but people across all spectra, and people who care about the health and safety of those who make the smut that we love:
1. Porn where affirmative consent is paramount
2. Sober sets
3. Safe and sane sets where performers are not directly placed in danger (ex. Suspension bondage performed by experienced riggers)
4. Porn made by women, minorities, and LGBTQ people, to encourage a diversity of voices
5. Porn free of slurs
6. No non-consensual kink-shaming
7. Sets where performers are fairly compensated
It’s entirely possible that I have overlooked something, so if there’s anything that you look for when choosing porn, let me know in the comments or send me a tweet!
I could write an entire essay about this topic, but put simply, the phrase “porn for women” means (to me) any adult imagery a woman enjoys to get off. Personally, the type of content I enjoy probably would not be considered “woman-friendly” by the typical and tired narrative that we’re familiar with, but I’m a woman and it’s what I want to watch, and therefore, it qualifies. Many people who don’t know better probably consider “porn for women” the stereotypical soft, romantic girl-girl scene or maybe some light BDSM (a la 50 Shades), but I find that grossly offensive. I don’t think these stereotypes speak to all the fantastic sexual preferences and proclivities women practice, and they sure as hell don’t speak for mine. I enjoy romance in my private life, but if I want to get turned on, some kissing and hand-holding isn’t going to cut it. Maybe I’m jaded from watching so much porn at work, but I need something visceral in my personal time that isn’t going to remind me of the run-of-the-mill content I peruse on a daily basis. I’m much more likely to be in the mood for FuckingMachines’ or BoundGangbangs’ content because, to me, loss of control is hot. I know plenty of women who feel differently though, and that’s why “porn for women” is a hot-button topic that can’t really be defined one way or another, and probably shouldn’t.
I have conflicting feelings about what porn for women is, and what it could be. Initially, I think companies were trying to make content that strayed from the male gaze and moved more towards a focus on female pleasure, maybe more intricate storylines, and various body types, which were not normally augmented by plastic surgery. Using “real” bodies meant that female viewers would feel more comfortable watching people who looked like them. I think some women really enjoy watching a lot of the Candida Royalle or Erika Lust films, and politically I think they are important for a myriad of reasons. Jacky St. James makes beautiful movies; they are thoughtful, well-acted, and award-worthy. I’m just not gonna jerk off to them.
If I’m watching porn for masturbatory purposes, these are the very last types of films I would watch. To be clear, I’m also not a fan of the degrading, throat gagging, spit-heavy scenes. My personal tastes fall in the expansive area between those two extremes.
I don’t watch porn as I used to before I worked here. I watch porn as a writer, a media studies graduate, I watch it as a politically aware cisgender female, and lastly, as a person looking to get off. Sometimes my politics and what I get off to differ, but that’s what is fascinating about porn and the safety that comes with the fantasy.
I don’t want someone pandering to my “femaleness” with a storyline that does very little for my arousal or studios that refuse to hire performers with boob jobs. I happen to like boob jobs. Porn for women is whatever porn videos female-identified people watch. As a writer and porn enthusiast I’m always happy to examine the male gaze, champion the female-friendly content, and explore genres I am uncomfortable/unfamiliar with so that I may gain empathy and insight, but don’t tell me what I should be jerking off to just because I’m a woman. I should be able to choose for myself.
What is porn for women? Any porn a woman enjoys is porn for women. I don’t have a simple answer, but I can say that I’ve certainly felt alienated from a lot of porn that exists because it doesn’t reflect any shred of my reality. (Then again, I also don’t want too much reality in my porn either. So it goes.) However, as Pierre Bourdieu might explain, you can define something by specifying everything that it is not. I can take a few stabs at what porn for women generally isn’t, but I’m in no place to tell anyone what is for them based on their gender. And which women are we subconsciously including when “porn for women” is the topic of discussion? Straight, hetero women? Lesbians? Trans* women? Single women? Married women? Further, is anyone asking what the porn is for queer people? Gender nonconforming, genderfluid, gender variant people? What porn is for those populations? So instead of “porn for women,” should we be asking what is porn for people who aren’t straight-identifying cisgender men?
That said, here are a few things that I don’t equate with the term “porn for women:”
- The dwelling upon the man’s orgasm and the delivery and reverence for his come, better known as “cum”
- Playing with come
- Dousing women in come, a la Monsters of Jizz (to be fair, I find these videos hilarious is their hyperbolic, comical, over the top, faux jizz explosions-which is really piña colada mix)
- Frying come in pans and making splooge omelets and eating them
- Fake orgasms
- Heels on during sex
- Very young stylization of female performers
- Dicks resting on female performers’ faces
- Cutting off the male performers’ heads during sex scenes, thus rendering them “stunt cocks” (You’re more than just a dick to me! Let me see your sweet face!)
- Stereotypically attractive women having sex with unattractive men
- Closeups of penetration that outweigh wider angle shots of the scene setting (Kudos to Dorcel for always showing the scenery.)
- Titles that include “slut,” “bitch,” or “whore,” in a demeaning way
- When a women appears as an accessory to her partner’s pleasure, rather than an active participant deserving of pleasure
The above elements can certainly be enjoyed by women, but I feel that they all exist for the sake of the male viewer, and his ego and his fantasy life. And I have nothing against the male viewer, but I am a lot more interested in seeing all of every performer’s body and I don’t really care about the presence of ejaculation as “proof” of a positive sexual experience. Orgasms are great, but I don’t think of them as a goal. Also, women and transmen don’t always have “provable” climaxes, and the idea that not having an orgasm signifies sexual failure is a very tiresome one. I want to see people having fun, if anything. And really, the only legal thing I don’t want to see is food play because that’s just one thing is that not my jam.