I was on my way to my Web Marketing class when a girl who looked about my age stopped me to ask me a very strange, life-changing question. She asked me if I watch porn. “Huh?” As a girl, I was taken aback by such a question, but her approach was so natural that I felt compelled to answer honestly: “Yes.”
“Great, would you like to come in for a focus group on women’s porn consumption and masturbation habits?” she asked.
“It pays 50 bucks and food will be provided,” she continued.
“Oh. OK. Sure, I’ll be there.”
A few months after my participation in that focus group, while my classmates and I were all struggling to find our summer internships, I thought back on the experience and how enjoyable it had been. I decided I had nothing to lose by sending in my application to a porn site. Two months later, I started my internship at Sex.com. I had some expectations, but like most unfounded presumptions, the reality was entirely different. Keep reading »
The UK boasts universal healthcare, tea flowing like wine, and Conservatives who sound like our Democrats when it comes to gun control and reproductive justice. A foreigner unfamiliar with the journalism landscape in the UK would have no reason to question the country’s progressive values.
The Sun is the UK’s widest-circulation newspaper and is read by more than two million people every day. It is published by News UK, a subsidiary of News Corps, and owned by Rupert Murdoch – i.e., it’s about as far right as the UK gets. I never purchased The Sun, but for the entire four years I lived in the UK I saw it most days I ventured out of my house; it’s absolutely everywhere. The paper costs £2 (just under $4.00), boasts amazing sports coverage, celebrity and political news and a TV guide. But where The Sun sharply diverts from newspapers we’re used to in America is on its third page. Page 3 is a cultural institution: in every issue for the past 40 years, there has been a topless young woman on the third page, referred to as “Page 3 girls.”
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“There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil stuff and those who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it.” — Janis Ian
Judging from the popularity of femme-on-femme makeouts being used to sell products from Versace to concert tickets, one would think that lesbian porn is a big seller. The best thing a pop star can do to fan media attention is fake interest in another woman, after all, so we must be eating up lesbian porn. Right? Keep reading »
Recently I got a chance to meet Isabel Dresler (safe for work), who I’ve taken to calling “photographer to queer porn stars.” She’s shot with some queer porn faves like Courtney Trouble, Dylan Ryan, Andre Shakti, and Siouxsie Q. We got to chatting at a shoot for the cover of the East Bay Express on the local porn scene, where Betty Blac, Jolene Parton and I helped fulfill her desire to have a photo taken while she was being smothered by breasts.
There’s an interesting combination of intimacy and high fashion that manifests under her gaze. I was curious to ask her a bit more about it, as well as why she decided to focus attention on marketing photos for sex workers. I liked how she called herself more of a scientist than an artistic photographer, investing her time in the study of her subject (which could be anything from insects to fancy homes). Everyone seems to be obsessed about the sex part of sex work, but it’s still work. As such, middle class indoor sex work often requires some practical and related investments: a decent website, a second phone, and, of course, some excellent photos.
Here’s my conversation with Dresler, after the jump: Keep reading »
I’ve written before about issues around payment processors and the sex industry, how businesses like Paypal, WePay and Google Wallet were shutting anyone they suspected of sex work out of using their services.
Well, turns out that a trickle down effect is happening within the banking world, as Chase recently sent letters out to hundreds of porn performers telling them their bank accounts would be shut down May 11th. Perez Hilton posted a photo of one of these letters from adult performer Teagan Presley, and while I am somewhat loath to link to his blog, I think it’s important to read the language. You’ll notice that Chase never specifically cites adult work in their decision, just that they “reviewed the account and determined that we will be closing it on May 11, 2014. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.”
I’m sure they’re terribly sorry. Just as they were really apologetic for refusing to process payments for Lovability CEO Tiffany Gaines. Her crime? Selling condoms, because they’re “adult-oriented material”. The same adult oriented material, of course, as Trojan, who could process their payments with no issues through Chase, but never mind. As long as they’re really sorry about it. Keep reading »
I’m just going to say it upfront: I’m a massive fan of “Game of Thrones.”
I know it’s problematic, controversial around its portrayals of women, and arguably more violent on screen than required (see last night’s rape scene for an example). And I know there’s been plenty of excellent critiques arguing that “Game of Thrones” is feminist, or isn’t feminist, or asking if it matters whether it’s feminist or not. I’ve appreciated the commentary on racism and “GoT,” as well as in fantasy in general. Through this I have learned a great deal on how to be a fan of problematic media while still maintaining a critique; there are certain ways where the book and the show differ that make the show more sexist, and in other ways less sexist, than the original material. I’m glad, actually, because if I never engaged in anything I found critique-worthy I think I’d self-destruct! Keep reading »
I’m writing this on an airplane from Toronto, Ontario, to San Francisco, California. I’ve just spent six days among other women, other queers, other porn performers, and other feminists at the Feminist Porn Awards and the Feminist Porn Conference. In that time, I have witnessed moments that made my heart soar, my eyes tear up with love and the fiercest of joys, pride in the people I hold close to me. I have experienced moments that hurt my heart, that disappointed me, moments that underlined how privilege can alienate and divide us. I spoke to academics, I spoke to sex workers, I spoke to sex workers who were academics. It was a weekend of realizations, inspiration, determination … and I came away from it all feeling exhilarated and ready to change the world.
I also realized that the sex wars are still very much A Thing. There are still Good Feminists and Bad Feminists, though the definition of which is which varies depending on who you ask. It’s saddening to see us fighting each other, women who have been called prudes for asserting their sexual choices attacking women who have been called whores for asserting their sexual choices … and vice versa. This is, of course, exactly what the patriarchy wants. While we bicker about whether or not porn is empowering, we are being systematically marginalized, turned away from jobs, thrown out of school, our kids and our workspaces and our money and our privacy taken away from us. The act of having sex on film or any other sex work may empower some and humiliate others, or we might start feeling one way and eventually feel another. (The same holds true for food service workers, though we ask that question far less often). In our current culture we are all experiencing and navigating the effects of capitalist patriarchy. Keep reading »