Do You Really Want Your Porn to Look More Like You?

I just want my porn to feature women who are confident, self-aware, and get off. I realize this is a lot to ask.

Jul 25, 2012 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment

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I'M ON TV!

Get excited, my fellow perverts: The sex industry is finally ready to cater to your every womanly need -- in exchange, of course, for your lush mounds of money.

In a Slate column about vibrators, Amanda Hess reflected on the recent shift away from phallic shapes in the dong industry. She wondered, ultimately, if perhaps a sea change in our nudie films might be next:

If even dildo manufacturers can successfully transcend the severed organ, surely the porn industry can offer women a little bit more than the old standby—a disembodied penis thrusting through scene after scene until it satisfies every male fantasy. What if porn were designed with an eye toward the female aesthetic in the way that Jimmyjane’s toys are? What if Girls did for porn what Sex in the City did for the vibrator, breaking the taboo? And what if women demanded more from the porn they’re already viewing?

Doesn't it feel like Don Corleone's wedding day? Go ahead! Do a little twirl and ask for something! The world is your Dutch Oyster.

Of course, Hess isn't suggesting that there's something we all want unilaterally. Certainly, female sexual desire is as varied and as different as the whorls of the fingers with which we gently diddle ourselves.

But it's an intriguing thought: what if "good sex" on screen looked like the good sex we're actually having? (Or, okay, would like to have, under ideal circumstances.) It sounds like an unlikely, especially since asthetics in porn seem to shift glacially at best. Besides, most of us can't get instant free sex toys on on RedTube.

Still -- given your druthers, would you change the standard hung stud/horny teen pump-and-blow? The "I'm a naughty tattooed bisexual with no bodyfat having an aloof fingerblast in a warehouse" of alt porn? Or would you be on board with (I'll say it) the Dunhamification of your spank films?

Would you want it to look more like you?

Well, for those of you who consume porn, that is. I realize that some of you don't, or feel guilty about it, for ethical reasons. But if buying more porn is indeed an emollient for the problems that have historically plagued women in the industry (which is ailing or thriving, depending who you ask), then I guess now's our time to come up with a list of demands. Let us hold a summit, and draw up a Vagna Carta.

Whether or not you want to actually see yourself in your porn, "fem porn" director/producer Erika Lust made an interesting point in the Guardian: It would be nice to be able to relate to it a little more. "To get excited," she mused, "women want to see something that looks like us. We want to see independent women exploring their sexuality, who are not afraid, but are not sex heroines either. We want to see attractive men who share our lifestyles, our ideas."

This is difficult, as I realize we are not all into penises or vaginas or sex at all. So, this is going to take a lot of generalizing. So, you know, if you're not into mainstream porn,  I'm not trying to leave you out. But, just like some of us like Hawaiian style or deep dish or hand tossed, most of us can agree that pizza is the greatest.

So for generality's sake, we're going Papa John's here. Let's talk about what we'd like to see in our garden variety, ho-hum, porny porny porno. I'll throw out some of my demands, and you guys can hit me with yours. Sound good? Onward.

Dudes.

Let's talk about girl-friendly boy performers for a minute, because they're enjoying a Moment.

Take the lovely Mr. James Deen. Taste preferences aside, he's decidedly refreshing as a mainstream star: a skinny, sexy dork (his Twitter avatar shows him coquettishly drinking a soda in a Burger King crown), which has become a sexual beau ideal only recently. I hate to say it, but I think he's the first porn star I've ever caught myself wanting to like, hang out with. I know -- please don't tell anyone. But therein lies his appeal.

In heterosexual, man-on-lady porn, we've been subject to the tyranny of the hulking mesomorph for the past couple of decades. Regardless of whether these guys go home, take off their necklaces and crack open a BUST, on screen, they come across as unappealingly gymmish and overdone: shiny, smooth bodies annelid with veins, and usually something slightly Lou Ferrigno about their faces.

Personally, I'd like more variety across the board. But what about you? Would you be OK with seeing, say, a Michael Cera ringer in a teabag scene? Would you like to see "Harold and Kumar Go to Town on Each Other"? Let's throw in a chubby beardo for you Emily types, and more short men for those of us who love them.

Also, will Idris Elba come to my house and film himself having sex with me? Just shooting the moon.

Ladies.

Sure, it would be interesting to see a new and exciting array of body types when you turn on "the wrong hotel PPV channel" "by mistake." But because the industry is already catering to the snowflake sexuality of men, there exists a stunning array of female bodies available, to the point where your actress can be customized like a Subway sandwich. (And yes, I'm using a lot of food metaphors here. Don't read into it. I'm hungry.)

There's a similar established "look" for women as much as the men I just totally dogged on a few paragraphs back. But you don't need to work very hard to find black, white, Asian, fat, thin, fake breasts, real breasts, piercings, dicks or clown makeup. If you don't like fake hair and nails, you need only find the right search term -- "natural" or "amateur" or "girl next door" -- to find what you like.

Such filters don't really exist on a male scale yet. (Try searching "no tribal tattoos" or "unfrosted tips.") Traditionally, mainstream hetero porn has operated on the same basic casting dogma as sitcoms and ads for Pillsbury biscuits -- as long as there's an attractive woman in there someplace, the rest is all decorative pillows.

So while I'd like more variety in my dudes AND my ladies, but what I'd like more than anything else is a woman who really seems like she's there for the love of the game.

I know, I know. It's a job, and they're actors. But assuming that anybody who's there is because she wants to be, and not because she's been dragooned or coerced or "reduced" (ugh) to it by financial circumstances, can't you convince me that you're having fun doing it? And I don't mean in the sad, "I just looooooove sex" way that some screwy people try to pass off as genuine joy -- but in the normal, having fun at work kind of way.

But you guys can feel free to make demands here. What do you want in your actresses? More power? A more realistic proportion of lucite to cellulite? More pubes? Pixie cuts? Go on. Sky's the limit.

"Plot."

Again: I've stuck to mainstream-y stuff here and I haven't even touched on genre specifics, mostly for expediency's sake. I don't know what you jerk off to.

Often when we talk about making more "female friendly porn," we call for more plot or more eroticism or -- dare I say it -- romance, but for me, there's a kind of uncanny valley when it comes to emotions in adult movies. I want the couple (or group of people or whatever) to enjoy each other… but not too much. Add the wrong proportion of feely to touchy and you wind up with the Manson-y looking couple in the original "Joy of Sex," or their logical conclusion, SNL's goat-meat chewing middle-aged hippie nymphomaniacs, The Lovers.

I'm not saying I want my porn realistic. Heaven forbid! But like any movie you watch, you gotta buy it just a little.

The Money Shot

Oh, the sticky standard male-female big finish. A lot of people are concerned that it's teaching us to just blow it on each other's faces willy nilly. Some believe that  this is ruining actual, real-life sex for a lot of women. (See: this article, or this one, or this one.)

I don't mind facials in porn from a degradation standpoint, because I find degradation hot when I know it's controlled and responsible. But I do take issue with it because

1. This should not be the standard, accepted, logical conclusion to sex, in movies or in real life.

2. There's not usually a follow-up where the guy makes sure the lady's summarily finished off.

Assuming I ever get that far into a clip, I'd like to see a guy blow his load someplace that doesn't involve a painstaking reapplication of makeup. Then I'd like to see him go down on a girl until she squirts in his eye like a clown corsage.

It's harder to capture the female money shot, because not all of us issue indisputable physical evidence. Clearly you can fake a pretty convincing orgasm, but even an authentic one can be unsettling. (There's a Tila Tequila vid where you can actually see her muscular contractions and it's nightmarish.)

I just want my porn to feature women who are confident, self-aware and get off. I realize this is a lot to ask.

There many things we can (and should) ask for in our porn, to make it more ethical and intelligent and, yes, sexy. That will take changing a lot more than where we wipe semen at the end of a take. But if the pornography industry wants my money, they should probably stop cumming in my eyes.

I would hate to rob ALL pornography of one of its singular appeals. Namely, that it can be dirty and kind of gross. Maybe you DO just want to see a horny girl with a haunted ass get tied to a chair and spanked. Or maybe that's not what you want at all, and you are horrified that someone of your gender has typed that. Let's be us.

But the idea that porn wants to serve women is exciting. The more movies that women into mind as customers and sexual people, the closer we get to making shame and degradation fun options instead of built-in perils.

I get that not everybody is into porn, but those of us who are can now make our money talk. While tastes preferences will inevitably vary, it would be thrilling if the porn produced for mass consumption had an entirely different set of essentials than french, fuck, facial.

The first step is for women who enjoy porn to become more active and vocal about what they want from it.  Who knows? Maybe then we'll actually start paying for it.