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Women in Porn: Empowering or Degrading?

On Saturday, April 6, 2013, the University of Toronto will be flooded with feminists talking about porn. The Feminist Porn Conference will be part of The Good for Her Feminist Porn Awards.

“Feminists have been debating, studying and creating pornography for decades, and the transformation of feminism, sexual politics, porn and popular culture over the last decade has broadened the dialogue,” Tristan Taormino, one of the editors of The Feminist Porn Book, wrote in a call for papers to be presented at the conference.

“With the resurgence of anti-pornography feminist scholarship,” the call continues, “the time has come to hear from progressive, anti-censorship, sex positive and sex worker feminist voices.”

There’s a lot of debate within feminism about whether pornography can be empowering to women, or if it’s only degrading objectification. And even among those feminists who believe that porn has the potential to empower women, there are different views on which kinds of porn falls into that category.

Some say all porn is empowering because the actresses are using their sexuality to their own means, to make money and support themselves. Others have strict definitions of what qualifies as feminist porn.

On the one hand, a large amount of what’s depicted in porn is definitely degrading to women, and teaches men to treat women like sex objects. It sends a largely negative message to young people. But on the other hand, in terms of the actresses themselves, they’re being paid good money to embrace and take control of their sexuality. More and more porn companies are run by women, so that they’re not just commodities being bought and sold by men, but are captains of an industry built around a love for the female body.

These debates and varying definitions, as well as options for the future of women in porn, will be among the topics discussed at the conference.

For more information on how to submit a paper, presentation or workshop, check out the call for submissions here.

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