By Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan for Youth Ki Awaaz:
Happy New Year, you guys! I hope the first three weeks of the year have been kind. Let’s dive right in.
Is it possible to reconcile pornography/kinks/sex positivity with the abolition of patriarchy?
When it comes to kinks, everyone’s are different. I recently read Cheryl Strayed’s beautiful collection of advice columns called “Tiny Beautiful Things“. I remember reading about a woman who wrote in saying that she was concerned about her kink being non-consensual sex. “Is there something wrong with me?” she asked, “Am I a bad feminist?” Strayed soothed and reassured, saying basically that even if she was turned on by rape fantasies, the rape fantasies were still consensual, she was still asking to be held down or tied up or whatever, and so it still fit within the realm of feminism.
That’s the advice I’m going to offer you: all kinks are fine, unless, here’s the caveat: they hurt someone else. And I don’t mean the spanking kind of hurt either. I mean, hurt someone who hasn’t asked for it, and/or doesn’t want to have sex with you.
As for porn, my ethics are slightly more jumbled. There’s no doubt that women are exploited around the world, and especially in the sex trade industry. There’s no doubt that strippers are seldom paid high wages, they’re not just doing a pole dance for the love of dance most likely. There’s no doubt that a growing demand for child pornography makes people do horrible things to small children and film themselves doing it so other people can watch. There’s all sorts of horrible things happening in the name of pornography.
So what do you do? First, you can do as I did and run a search for “ethical porn”. Defined, ethical porn means adult films that are made legally, actors who have signed up for this specific job. It’s also known as “fair trade” porn, much like that coffee you’d buy, you can also view porn where everyone’s hope is that no one is exploited. Shots focus on the expression of the woman as she’s having an orgasm (detail via The Guardian), real sex, no photoshopped bodies. A whole list of places you can watch it is available on this blog post.
The three tenets of ethical porn, according to this Deadspin article are: treat actors with respect, show real sex and real pleasure, and emphasise diversity. So, no, you don’t have to give up porn just because you’re a feminist, you just have to be looking in the right places.
Aunty Feminist loves to hear from her readers! If you’d like her to answer a burning question you might have, send it to us at email@example.com or tweet your questions to @reddymadhavan.