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5 Ways to Make Sure That Your Porn is Ethically Feminist

Porn is everywhere and it's really hard to separate the wheat from the chaff just in terms of finding something genuinely sexy to you. Once you throw in your feminist ideals, it can feel overwhelming. How do you know that the shoot was consensual? Did they actively enjoy what they did? Aren't those fake nails going to hurt? Luckily, feminist porn is increasing in popularity. If you approach it with an open mind, do your homework and reach out to the community, you'll find the porn of your dreams and rest easy knowing everyone was treated fairly, paid a fair wage and had a very good time.

1. Forget What You Think You Know

For whatever reason, feminist porn conjures up a lot of images, and few of them are at all correct. Carlyle Jansen, owner of feminist adult store Good For Her and founder of the Feminist Porn Awards explains: "People think we're the Lesbian Porn Awards or the Man Hating Porn Awards; they think feminism is passé. We want women's, men's, and trans perspectives; we're not just looking for what women want." Feminist porn is not only open to and enthusiastic about all genders and sexualities, it's also an expression of a wide variety of desires. Gone are the days of entirely equal and balanced sexual expression in the name of respect  feminist porn gives space for all kinds of power dynamics to be explored by being clear and upfront about communication, negotiation and consent. Feminist porn looks like every other kind of porn out there, and it features even more risqué and transgressive content, it's just made with sex-positive feminist ideals you can set your watch to.

2. Consult the Experts!

The beauty of this emergent world is that, though it seems to be the little guy next to the mainstream, it's very well documented and people are happy to write about all kinds of feminist companies, producers, directors, and performers to get spread awareness and help people find what they like. The perfect place to start is by checking out the yearly list of nominees for the Feminist Porn Awards. After eight years of award ceremonies, they have accumulated a veritable goldmine of films and websites embodying the spirit of joyous, connected and empowered sexuality that feminist porn is all about.

3. Check in With the Performers Themselves

Social media has made it much harder for big, exploitative companies to pull the wool over the eyes of their consumers … Performers are talking and they aren't pulling any punches. Male pornstar heartthrob James Deen took to his blog to voice his concern over the consent issues and implications on the set of controversial mainstream site Pornstar Punishment, which lead to its discontinuation in July 2012. Twitter lit up like wildfire when several performers from Kink.com, including Maggie Mayhem and Maxine Hollowayshared their less than stellar stories about working conditions for the fetish empire. Performers and producers even take to Youtube to share their own views of what it means to make feminist porn, as is the case with queer porn icon Courtney Trouble, among many others. Viral videos, well-written posts, and honest social media usage means that you can do plenty of research and ask questions to the performers themselves to ensure you're supporting ethically feminist companies. Don't worry! They're very friendly and happy to help fellow feminists find their way to better porn.

4. Learn More About It

Feminist porn is becoming more widely accepted as a scholarly issue. This year alone marked the release of the Feminist Porn Book and the first ever Feminist Porn Conference at the University of Toronto. There's even going to be an academic journal devoted to porn studies through Routledge, which will no doubt be replete with all the feminist rhetoric you could possibly hope for. The more information you have about the inner workings of feminist porn, the better you're going to be able to address issues of the male gaze, consent, authenticity and representation in the porn you watch and support.

5. Vote With Your Dollar

Making feminist porn solely for the greater good is a very romantic idea, but the reality is that performers need to be paid a fair wage in order to make rent. It's not cost-free to shoot films, maintain websites, or publicize DVDs … While this isn't a way to ensure your porn is feminist, it is a way to ensure that feminist porn thrives and will be there when you want it. Popular feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino is one of many voicing the dire need for people to move beyond the free porn tube model to help make feminist porn a sustainable option: "We are not about creating fast food … We're about creating a really different kind of a product that's made in a different way, and that might actually be a little more expensive. If you're only going to buy organic juice, then you should think about buying some organic porn." A movement can only go so far on momentum alone, and it's worth re-evaluating the value we put on porn so that we can be sure it's produced ethically and with our politics in mind.

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