James Darling on BBC’s “Where the world’s feminist pornographers gather.”

It’s almost 01:00 in the morning in a hotel room in downtown Toronto, and three porn stars in various states of undress are choreographing the sex scene they are about to film.

The performers include a man, a woman, and a transgender man, opening a world of sexual possibilities.

“So what are we doing?” James Darling, the 26-year-old transgender performer, asks his co-stars Wolf Hudson and Zahra Stardust. “What are people feeling up to?”

The trio talk over ideas for costumes and props and negotiate their “dos and don’ts” – sex talk so frank and detailed it made a visitor cringe and stare into his notebook.

Meanwhile, the crew, Kitty Stryker and Courtney Trouble, set up the lights and the cameras.

They settle on a storyline so implausible it smacks of self-parody, something about a woman hiring a male prostitute only to have Darling and the other man show up at once. The lights and cameras click on, and the clothes come off.

This group were some of the more than 250 porn performers, filmmakers, fans and academic researchers who convened in Toronto last month for an international gathering of feminist pornographers.

At an awards show and an academic conference at the University of Toronto, they celebrated achievements in the small but growing genre – and debated what it means for their porn to be feminist.

“If it’s possible to have sex in a feminist way, it’s possible to record it in a feminist way,” says Pandora Blake, a 29-year-old London-based sex worker, pornographer and porn performer.

Meanwhile, the crew, Kitty Stryker and Courtney Trouble, set up the lights and the cameras.

They settle on a storyline so implausible it smacks of self-parody, something about a woman hiring a male prostitute only to have Darling and the other man show up at once. The lights and cameras click on, and the clothes come off.

This group were some of the more than 250 porn performers, filmmakers, fans and academic researchers who convened in Toronto last month for an international gathering of feminist pornographers.

“If it’s possible to have sex in a feminist way, it’s possible to record it in a feminist way,” says Pandora Blake, a 29-year-old London-based sex worker, pornographer and porn performer.

“Making any kind of pornography that genuinely arouses women and gets them off is important to women’s liberation. That’s part of why these films are feminist – it’s a feminist enterprise to show women’s pleasure.”

Feminist porn is political – men, women, transgender people, gays, lesbians, self-identified “queer” people, straight people, disabled people, people of colour, fat people – all are filmed on their own terms and express their own sexuality, industry figures say.

“It’s a place where people with alternative sexualities can explore their sexualities,” says Carey Gray, a transgender man, pornographer and owner of a leather goods business.

“Trans-guys can look at me in performance and feel validated about their own bodies.”

HM Anderson, a 41-year-old South Carolina mother of two, describes her affinity for feminist porn as a matter of taste.

“I just find mainstream porn to be very boring,” she says. “It’s just old. You’re just like, ‘jeez, really, that’s what you think women do in bed?'”

Part Iranian and Tunisian porn star Arabelle Raphael, 25, complains that mainstream porn producers “whitewash” her ethnic looks or reduce her to an exotic, belly-dancing fetish object.

But the feminist pornographers “let me be me” – and give her much more say over what she does with her body in front of the cameras.

“If I’m not comfortable with something I’m not afraid to say no,” she says. “I don’t have to worry about never getting hired again.”

The feminist porn audience is different from that of mainstream porn, too – it comprises straight and gay couples, straight and gay women, transgender people and “queer” people who reject the common categories of gender and sexuality – and comparatively few solo straight men.

See more on BBC News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.