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When we first opened Red Tent Sisters, we had quite the debate about whether to carry porn. The only porn we’d ever seen was the kind that raised lots of ethical questions – were the women being coerced? Were they experiencing authentic pleasure? Were the films reinforcing stereotypes? In other words, was there any way that porn could comfortably fit on the shelves of our sex-positive, feminist store? Shortly after we opened, we had the pleasure of attending the Feminist Porn Awards. The event exposed us to a completely different world of porn – one where the performers were empowered and the audience was exposed to a diverse range of authentic pleasure. We’ll never forget the moment where Simone Valentino got on stage to accept her award and exclaimed, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this. I love my job!” Suddenly we could see a way to support porn that was in line with the philosophy of Red Tent Sisters.
So, what exactly is feminist porn? Like many aspects of feminism, there is no singular definition. However, most of the films share the following components:
- Consent and collaboration are made explicit throughout the content
- Pleasure is authentic
- Minorities underrepresented in mainstream porn are included without being fetishized
- Performers are paid a fair wage and are treated with care and respect
In the five years since we’ve opened, we’ve been excited to discover that the genre of feminist porn is growing. Not only are there more films that challenge mainstream representations of sexuality, but the very of idea of feminist porn has become more popular. So much so that Cosmo magazine recently published an interview with Tristan Taormino on the topic. However, on the other side, there’s a trend towards online pirated porn. There’s a whole generation that grew up downloading media for free– music, movies, games. I often hear people ask, “why would I pay for a video when there’s so much free porn on the internet?” It’s a fair question. But, as Tristan points out, most ‘free porn’ isn’t really free – it’s been illegally uploaded, or it wasn’t ethically produced in the first place. If consumers want to see more feminist porn, they have to be willing to financially support those productions, which is why Tristan likens her work to organic, fair-trade coffee. So next time you’re thinking of watching porn, how about doubling the pleasure by knowing you’re supporting a product you can feel good about.
Kim & Amy Sedgwick love to discuss sex, periods, and all the other things we’re not supposed to talk about. The co-founders of Red Tent Sisters and ecosex.ca, they’ve been featured in every major Canadian news outlet and have become a trusted resource for women seeking natural (effective!) birth control, a more joyful sex life, and an empowered journey to motherhood.