‘Ethical porn’

Feminist pornographer says porn can be a tool for empowerment — if it’s done right

Erika Lust (YouTube/TEDx)

Feminist pornographer Erika Lust has spoken out to counter critics who suggest that porn is to blame for men’s toxic treatment of women, and called on the industry to promote the making of “ethical porn” that “represents individuals having sex, not men ‘doing’ sex to women.” Speaking to The Local, Lust, who was born in Sweden but now works in Barcelona, Spain, explained that she is an ardent supporter of sex-positive feminism.

“For me, feminism is the belief that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities in all aspects of life,” she said. “It is sisterhood. Supporting another woman’s right to do whatever she wants — however different another woman’s expression may be from yours. That includes sexual freedom, which is a basic human right.”

And while the broader porn industry, she acknowledged, “definitely mirrors our society, which blatantly neglects female autonomy and pleasure,” she said it was unfair to “say that porn alone has mainstreamed sexual assault.”

“Across the world, the film and TV industries continue to foist outdated gender roles upon viewers … Media sexism also demeans women and fuels abuse by men,” she noted. “Movements such as #MeToo show what we all knew before: that there is a gender dysfunction and a power imbalance in society that is visible in every single field … We have always lived in a culture of toxic masculinity that allows and encourages men to perpetrate acts of violence and disrespect towards women. This is the story of humans.”

Erika Lust on the set of one of her films. (Courtesy Erika Lust)

In the production of her own work, which includes her adult film company, LustCinema, as well as XConfessions, a collection of pornogrpahic films based on storylines submitted by members of the public, she said she focuses on ensuring an environment of safety, mutual respect, and consent. By showing women actively having sex, rather than serving as objects upon whom sex is performed, she said she hopes to “squash the belief that women are not aroused by representation of sex … and help society to overcome sexist gendered stereotypes and show a more realistic and relatable version of sex and human sexuality.”

“With more female pornographers making films, we can offer diversity and represent all the different parts of society and the people in it,” she added. “People will be able to see themselves in those films, to see the sex they have, to be inspired, become educated, and receptive to the huge range of different sexualities out there. And most importantly they won’t be exposed to one version of sex, sexuality and gender representation.”

Speaking with The Local, Lust also shared her thoughts on a rising feminist movement in Spain, where the so-called “wolf pack” sexual assault case spurred protests and 5 million women went on strike for International Women’s Day, as well as controversial attempts in her own country to outlaw prostitution.

In 2014, Lust spoke to TEDx about her plans to lead reform in the porn industry. Watch her full TED Talk below.

Read the full story at The Local.

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