Is female-friendly porn the next feminist frontier?

by Ilaria Lonigro - 2014.04.24
Is female-friendly porn the next feminist frontier?
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Everyone in Italy should have the right to enjoy porn: from housewives to those in old people’s homes, mothers and female students. Porn should be free and democratic, not exclusively directed towards heterosexual men, as has been the case so far in Italy. This is the message being put out by Le ragazze del porno, a collective of 11 women who create female-friendly porn. They include journalists, filmmakers, writers and actresses who have launched an online fundraising campaign to finance their first 10 erotic short films.

“Take part in the crowdfunding and support a new sexual culture in our country, before it rots completely,” Silvia Corti, known by her stage name of Slavina, tells West. As a filmmaker and author of Racconti erotici per ragazze sole o male accompagnate (Perrone, 2012), Corti has for years been trying to get the message across that porn isn’t only what is seen in the mainstream (close-ups of genitalia and timing based on male ejaculation, and certainly not centred on female pleasure). There are pornos with more elaborate plots that are capable of stimulating the female imagination and turning ordinary women on.

In the rest of Europe, especially in Spain and Scandinavia, this has been known for a long time. The Swedish Film Institute financed the 12 short ‘feminist pornos’ by Mia Engberg, who teaches filmmaking at Stockholm’s Academy of Dramatic Arts. Another Swede, Erika Lust, 37, has also produced a commercial porn film for women and is author of Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide (Pink Books). It will be a long time before the government starts to fund feminist porn in Italy, where the Lars Von Trier film Nymphomaniac was recently censored in cinemas. Back in 1997, the Danish director had already launched his own line of female porn, called Puzzy power, with his own production company, Zentropa.

But Ragazze del Porno are not giving up and have started their own crowdfunding project, which seeks to raise money from the bottom up. So far, the big donations have mainly been from Italian men. But small sums have been pledged by women as well. “Right now we’re pretty far from our goal but we are optimistic, we know we are pioneers so we need patience as well as lots of motivation. Crowdfunding as a mechanism of collective financing for cultural projects is still relatively unknown in Italy,” admits Slavina, who had already tried this method of funding to support the Italian tour of the Italian activist for pornographic freedom, Diana J. Torres, also known as Diana Pornoterrorista. “It was really tiring,” says Slavina.

The short films produced by Ragazze del Porno will probably not be filmed in Italy. “The situation with regards to the tax rate in Italy, which is already high for any business, is even higher for the porn industry and this could drive us elsewhere. Nothing is certain yet, however,” she adds.

Who would want to see their film? “Anyone: anyone who feels they need to; anyone who wants to. I’ve always dreamed of addressing the issue of sexuality with older people and I think I’ll try to organise at least one viewing in an old people’s home. Personally, I would like our films to be seen outside cinemas as well, in unconventional places,” says Slavina. More pornographic freedom, according to these activists, would help women have better relationships, not just in bed. “That’s what I hope for, of course, but I don’t want to say it too loud, bearing in mind what happened to my mentor on sex and society, Wilhem Reich,” she jokes, referring to the Austrian psychiatrist, famous for his studies on sexual repression, who died of a heart attack in prison.