Why (your) porn is political

Pornography is a topic that is rarely discussed in the media, even though pornography is a medium that has enormous social relevance and is an integral part of many people’s sexuality. Whether alone or with a partner.
And without really thinking about it, many people think that their porn consumption preferences are something private, detached from political and social norms. Something unspoken and unchangeable. A private matter. Our sexuality and therefore also our (porn) preferences are linked to our social and cultural background. Much of it can change over the course of time, whether through experiences we make or through processes of reflection.

Gustave Courbet, “Le Sommeil”, 1866. Depictions of sexuality are always a reflection of society and the zeitgeist.
Source: Wiki Commons

We are constantly asked how we decide whether something is ethical or not. This is often based on the assumption that we use the term ethical porn to refer to content. We have already explained what we mean by “ethical porn” and what we mean by “feminist porn” in our blog. In our eyes, what lies behind this question is rather the worry of being judged for what you look at. It’s also not so easy to tell the difference. A feminist self-image also collides with internalized shame for many enlightened, sex-positive people. And even if we say that ethical films are not about the content, that all kinks are ok, that there should be no taboos as long as consensus is the focus, we still think that what you watch has political implications and invite you to (self-)critically reflect on your porn consumption.

Because porn films also reproduce racist, transphobic or sexist narratives. Like all areas of our society, this also applies to the porn industry. And this industry is also a reflection of what sells particularly well. Which type of films are produced the most and how the clips are marketed also depends on what consumers search for and click on the most. This can lead to a dilemma for the performers: On the one hand, they also want to earn well in their job and may compromise on how they are portrayed and marketed. On the other hand, they may not want to have to conform to stereotypes that do not correspond to their identity or beliefs. Trans performers, for example, do not want to be constantly fetishized and demand that their gender identity is respected and affirmed. PinkLabelTV writes about being trans in the porn industry in its Porn Resources and has provided a detailed collection of experiences in“Our Bodies, Our Porn: A Trans-Positive Guide to Adult Films“.
An interesting collection of publications on gender-based discrimination in the film industry in general, published by the German Federal Film Board, can be found here.

Science has already looked at the effects porn consumption could have on viewers. There are now differentiated contributions on this subject, ranging from cultural studies to psychological publications. Unfortunately, conservative media and Christian movements are often the loudest in the discourse and are driven not by facts but by moral panic. Jacob Engelberg describes this phenomenon in the journal Porn Studies:

“They fear that pornography has the potential to turn straight men queer, to turn cis men trans. In a sense, I have been arguing something similar, although I do not simply believe that porn can turn one queer or trans as they describe. […] My point is, less sensationally, that porn can foster curiosities to desire and identify expansively [und] through its proffering of multiple positions of sexual possibility. A second – maybe obvious, yet significant – difference […] is that I do not believe there is anything wrong with becoming queer or becoming trans, and neither do I subscribe to the idea that sexualities and genders are or should be immutable.”
Jacob Engelberg (2024), Bisexual and Transgender Potentialities in Pornographic Spectatorship

Isn’t it a nicer idea that porn consumption can also positively influence our senses and broaden our horizons? Nevertheless, we should not forget to critically question our viewing habits and not offend anyone in the process.

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Porn site: Meow Meow

We are happy to present “Meow Meow” to you. The collective makes experimental porn art from Berlin. Now check out what Meow Meow is about and how it ranks regarding production conditions, diversity and user experience.

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