29 Sep

Feminist Porn Studies: Writing by Academics and Sex Industry Workers

A new generation of women in the porn industry openly identify as feminist and own their own companies, direct and produce their own material, and/or take on politicized identities as sex worker performers. In addition to “porn for women,” a new wave of porn genres emerges today including alt porn, feminist porn, queer porn, amateur porn, and genderqueer and transgender porn.

Given the transformations of feminism, sexual politics, pornography and popular culture over the last decade or more, our book, Feminist Porn Studies, moves past the pro/anti porn debate to address multiple productive questions:  Does feminist porn exist? What does it look like? What does it mean to be a feminist/woman who performs in, makes, distributes, and/or consumes porn? Are women and feminists working within or against the status quo? How have representations of the female body, gender, and sexuality shifted as a result of feminists and women making porn? How are marginalized women—including women of color, queer and trans women, disabled women, lower and working class women, fat women, and older women—imagined, represented, or treated in feminist or non feminist pornography? How do sex workers address misogyny, racism, and inequality in a predominantly white, male-dominated industry? How do women create new languages and practices that account for the complex politics of pleasure and power in pornography?

Taking up the torch from classic texts like Whores and Other Feminists by Jill Nagle (1997) and Drucilla Cornell’s Feminism and Pornography (2000), we’d like to explore the intersections between feminism, pornography, and sex work. We’d also like to respond to the recent resurgence of anti-pornography feminist scholarship in texts by Sheila Jeffries, Gail Dines, Karen Boyle, Pamela Paul, and Robert Jensen, anti-porn conferences, and films like Chyng Sun’s The Price of Pleasure and Jane Caputi’s The Pornography of Everyday Life. There has not been an adequate response to this tremendous production by anti-porn feminists. It’s time we hear from anti-censorship, sex positive, liberal, and sex worker feminist voices.

We seek essays by academics from different disciplines (including feminist studies, gender and sexuality studies, ethnic studies, film and media studies, sociology, history), cultural critics, activists, as well as people who work/ed in the adult entertainment industry (performers, producers, directors, company owners), especially those who identify as feminists. Here are some of the themes we hope submissions will address:

  • feminist and post feminist approaches to porn
  • representations of female pleasure and desire
  • gender, race, class, culture, and ability differences
  • feminist porn as political, free speech, or sexual dissent
  • readings of women/gender in historical porn film/media
  • feminist consumption/spectatorship of porn
  • sexual authenticity vs. fantasy
  • LGBT/queer/genderqueer/transgender porn
  • men in feminist porn
  • technology and feminist porn practices
  • BDSM, fetish, and rough sex vs. romance, plot-driven porn
  • analysis of hardcore or softcore feminist porn
  • debates about snuff, gang bangs, and violence against women in porn
  • notions of beauty, ability, body size, or age
  • HIV/AIDS, STIs, and safer sex
  • sex education in porn
  • the “pornification” of U.S. popular culture and everyday life
  • porn addiction or porn and “family values”
  • teaching pornography in feminist classrooms
  • porn workers and feminist politics
  • working in feminist vs. non-feminist pornography sets/environments
  • sex work, labor rights, and equality in the porn industry

About the Editors

Constance Penley is Professor of Film and Media Studies and co-director of the Carsey-Wolf Center for Film, Television and New Media Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Professor Penley’s major areas of research interest are film history and theory, feminist theory, cultural studies, contemporary art, and science and technology studies. She is a founding editor of Camera Obscura: Feminism, Media, Cultural Studies. She is the author of NASA/TREK: Popular Science and Sex in America and The Future of An Illusion: Film, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis. She is co-editor of The Visible Woman: Imaging Technologies, Science and Gender (ed. with Treichler and Cartwright) and editor of Feminism and Film Theory and The Analysis of Film. Her collaborative art projects include MELROSE SPACE: Primetime Art by the GALA Committee and Biospheria: An Environmental Opera, on which she was co-librettist. Penley is a 2009 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Award for “DigitalOcean: Sampling the Sea.”

Celine Parreñas Shimizu works as a filmmaker and film scholar and is an Associate Professor of Film and Performance Studies in the Asian American, Comparative Literature, Feminist and Film and Media Studies Departments at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her first book, The Hypersexuality of Race: Performing Asian/American Women on Screen and Scene (Duke, 1997) won the Cultural Studies Book Award from the Association of American Studies in 2009. Her second book, Straitjacket Sex Screens: Mapping Asian American Manhoods in the Movies is forthcoming from Stanford University Press (2012). Her publications include interviews and articles in Signs, Theatre Journal, Wide Angle, Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Journal of Asian American Studies and Sexualities. Recently, her first feature film Birthright: Mothering Across Difference (2009) won the Best Feature Documentary at the Big Mini DV Festival. It is available at http://www.progressivefilms.org. She teaches popular culture, social theories of power and inequality, race and sexuality, feminist and film and performance theory as well as television and film production. She is currently a Visiting Faculty Scholar at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University.

Mireille Miller-Young is Assistant Professor of Feminist Studies and Affiliate Assistant Professor of Black Studies and Film and Media Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Earning her Ph.D. in History from New York University, she has won numerous academic fellowships and awards, including the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Grant in Women’s Studies. She researches and teaches about race, gender and sexuality in media and sex economies in the U.S. She is currently working on a manuscript titled A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women, Sex Work, and Pornography which examines black women’s representations, performances and labors in the adult entertainment industry. Professor Miller-Young has published in Sexualities, Meridians: Feminism, Race and Transnationalism, Blackness and Sexualities, Pornification: Sex and Sexuality in Media Culture, and C’Lick Me: A Netporn Studies Reader. In addition, she has written essays for Feminist Theory, Colorlines, Cut-Up.com, Republic.com and Spread, a sex worker magazine.

Tristan Taormino is an award-winning author, columnist, editor, sex educator, and feminist pornographer. She is the author of six books including The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women and True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn and Perversion. She runs the adult film production company Smart Ass Productions and is an exclusive director for Vivid Entertainment. Her films have won multiple AVN and Feminist Porn Awards, and she received the Trailblazer Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Feminist Porn Awards in 2010. She was a columnist for The Village Voice for nearly ten years and writes a column for Hustler’s Taboo. She was creator and series editor of seventeen volumes of the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology Best Lesbian Erotica and she is the former editor of On Our Backs, the nation’s oldest lesbian-produced lesbian sex magazine. Tristan has been featured in over 200 publications from The New York Times to Playboy. She lectures at top colleges and universities and teaches sex and relationship workshops around the world.

Deadline: April 1, 2011

Submission Guidelines:

  • We are only accepting electronic submissions.
  • Please submit one piece for consideration. We will consider unpublished and previously published work.
  • Word count should be 5000-7000 words, but we will also consider shorter pieces.
  • Submissions should be in MS Word .doc or docx format. We will accept .pdf files for submission purposes, but will eventually need it in Word for publication.
  • Include with submissions: name, contact information, brief bio or CV, publication information if piece has been previously published.
  • Send queries and submissions to: feministpornstudies@gmail.com