October 10, 2012 04:51pm
Women and Porn
Source: Adult Industry News
by: Will Jarvis
Will ''Taliesin'' Jarvis Breaking the Pornographers Code: Porn's Secrets Revealed
From the beginning of my XXX career penning a column in a local swingers magazine titled, appropriately enough, Local Swingers, on to numerous articles in popular porn publications such as Cinema Blue, Velvet and Erotic X-Film Guide, thru books such as Porn 101: The Guide to Becoming an X-Rated Movie Star and Porn101: Eroticism, Pornography and the First Amendment, I have sought to inform and entertain those who perused my humble offerings with the truth of porn and the porn community.
While I enjoy performing in movies and doing live webcam sex shows, and even shows before a live audience, I equally enjoy sharing that experience with others who want to know what it's like to be a porn star, what it's like on the set of an adult movie, what it's like to fuck for a living, and, in a broader sense, what porn really is all about, where and how it fits into our culture and society.
I've been interviewed for newspapers and magazines and websites, been on some of the TV and radio talk shows, and lectured to audiences at polyamory and swingers conventions, as well as lecturing to students of porn history, human sexuality and sociology on college campuses. Many people want to know what really goes on behind-the-scenes in pornland. And I'm here to tell you just that.
So let me just say a quick "Thank you" to Steve Nelson for inviting me to write for AINews, and let's get started with my first column titled:
Women and Porn
Women don't like porn. You might've heard that somewhere, sometime. It's not true, but you might have heard it, and perhaps thought it might be so. Any such sweeping and overly broad declaration, of course, must be suspect to begin with. I hope that, like me, a red flag warning goes off in your mind any time you hear such generalizations whether they be about gender, race, politics, religion or whatever.
So, let's examine that statement — Women don't like porn. — More closely to see how and why it came about.
In the days before the internet, in that long-ago time before even home video tape existed, back in the 1960s and '70s, porn was relegated to "Adults Only" movie theaters and book and magazine specialty shops. Due to zoning laws, these shops were often located in "bad" neighborhoods, or at the far fringes of a given town, out of the way of the mainstream of society, isolated. Such laws were generally used by anti-porn factions within the existing governmental structure to suppress freedom of speech and expression. Members of said factions described it differently, of course; to their way of thinking they were preventing the spread of "vice" and "sin". (Or at least that's what they told the public.)
How, I wonder, the viewing of two or three or more consenting adults making love could be construed a "sin". How could sharing one's sexuality with others be a "vice"? (Any thoughts or ideas on the subject of the origin of sex as a sin or a vice? If you'd like me to discuss that subject in a future blog post, let me know.)
The porn shops were said to reduce property values in their neighborhoods, and also to promote crime. Neither of these statements were true. But these "secondary effects" (the lowering of property values and the rise in the crime rate) as they were called held sway in the mind of the general public. More recent studies have shown that adult businesses do not produce negative secondary effects. Almost any well-run business, be it a grocery store, computer shop, bakery or any other type of business, including an adult business, produces positive effects. The deciding factor appears to be whether the business is well-run or not.
(I heard a funny story about secondary-effects once; let's see if I can remember how it goes: Fulton County, Georgia police and prosecutors commissioned a study on the secondary effects of adult businesses with the idea of using the results of the study to help them prosecute adult businesses and close them down. Trouble was, the study showed no negative secondary effects. They went to court to try to suppress their own study but the judge ruled against them. The study results existed and had to be used. It didn't stop the State from trying to put adult businesses out of business, but it did make it harder.)
So, we have the adult book shops located in bad parts of town, and a general perception that the presence of an adult business increases the crime rate. This made many women wary of going to such places, even if they had an interest in porn; while the crime-rates were not higher due to adult businesses, in a generally bad neighborhood those rates might be higher than average due to other factors. Any woman would rightly think twice before subjecting herself to these perceived dangers. Additionally, though porn was on its way to legalization, it wasn't there yet, and the owners of the adult book shops feared that the presence of a woman, by herself, at such an establishment posed an additional criminal risk.
(Freeman v. California was the case that legalized porn in 1988. Hal Freeman, a movie producer, was charged with pimping and pandering for hiring actresses to appear in the movie Caught From Behind 2, and was convicted. Upon appeal, the California Supreme Court ruled, in an unanimous decision, in favor of Freeman. This lead to the legalization of XXX entertainment. Freemen had not been charged with promoting "obscenity," and the Court looked upon the case as an attempt by prosecutors to get around the First Amendment by trying another means to strike at porn. The Court's decision has been explained this way: While it is illegal to rob a bank, it is not illegal to make a movie about robbing a bank. And that also reveals another secret, that of the difference between porn and prostitution and explains why one is legal and one is not. At least in part. How prostitution came to be a crime is another story. If you'd like me to address that topic, let me know.)
The common wisdom in the 1960s and '70s, the cultural understanding, was that women didn't like sex, and, thus, had no interest in watching movies of others having sex. (This attitude was changing but the change was a slow one.) It was often assumed that a woman alone in a porn theater or adult book shop must be a prostitute; Like c'mon, really? Who but a whore would want to hang around a porn shop? What other reason might a woman have for being in such an establishment? Foolish reasoning by today's standards and understanding of human sexuality, but that's what was held to be true back then. And, thus, the presence of a woman alone in an adult book store was discouraged by the management.
The zoning laws and the attitude of the management of the porn businesses worked against women who wanted to view such material. Cultural attitudes also worked against men who wanted to view porn; no one, female or male, wanted to be branded a deviant or a pervert. Being spotted coming out of a porn theater or adult book store by a friend, neighbor or co-worker could prove quite embarrassing. But the times, they were a'changing.
As laws, attitudes and technology changed, women who were interested in porn finally gained access to it thru home video. The good ol' VCR and the availability of porn in shopping malls and street corner markets finally allowed women, and men, to view porn in the comfort of their own homes. Porn was beginning to go mainstream.
This mainstreaming of porn, and the interest of women in the subject, had an effect on the production of porn itself. In the 1980s, if a couple went to a video shop and rented a XXX tape, it was usually the woman making the selection of what the couple viewed. Porn companies such as Femme Productions arose to provide specifically for the "women's" and "couples" market. (I was the Public Relations Director for Femme in the mid-1980s. I mention this in the spirit of full-disclosure. I'm not keeping secrets from you.) Today there is a multiplicity of porn types and genres, everything from mild to wild to extreme; something for everyone, including women.
Home video affected not only the women who were watchers of porn but also many women who wanted to be in porn. In the late 1960s and '70s, a number of the women who appeared in porn were failed actresses, and I mean no disrespect by my choice of words; these women had acting talent but never got the breaks in Hollywood or on Broadway that might have catapulted them to successful mainstream careers. But acting was in their blood, their hearts; they had to act. And so they did, in cheap, low-budget, wonderfully corny and outrageous hardcore XXX fuck flicks. (The same was true for many of the actors as well; they had tried mainstream showbiz careers but weren't making it.) Some of these actresses and actors did Summer Stock and had small parts or supporting roles in mainstream feature films. So porn performing was a second choice for them. Sure, some of the women and men chose porn for the sex and to spread the message of peace and free love; it was the "hippie" era after-all. But for most it was a second choice, a fallback position.
But once home video brought porn directly to them, many of the women who went on to appear in porn movies made porn their first choice. They watched porn and said, "I can do that." Or words to that effect. In the early days of modern porn, a goodly number of the women appearing in porn had never seen porn. With home video this was no longer true.
So the change in technology from films featured in theaters to videos viewed in the privacy of one's own home changed the type of women who chose to appear in porn, or at least added a new type to their ranks. Some had specific goals such as putting themselves thru college or simply trying to establish some financial security. Some, as always, just like the sex. Some didn't like the sex but made the choice to do porn anyway. There's no single "type" of porn performer, female or male. But today at least most people coming into porn have some knowledge of porn. And that's a major difference between the early Porn Chic era and today.
So do women like porn? We can't generalize, but I would guess that the easy availability of porn on the internet is giving women a better understanding of the subject, and, at least for some, a greater appreciation of it.
I wanna hear from you. Send your comments, criticisms and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2012 will Jarvis. All Rights Reserved.
The moderately mythic Will "Taliesin" Jarvis is a popular part time porn performer, pagan pundit, practicing polyamorist and prominent prosex partisan, as well as being addicted to atrocious alliteration.
He chronicles the wondrous and whacky world of porn, polyamory, swinging and other alternative sexualities in words and pictures.
Visit him at www.willjarvis.com and www.paganpleasures.com/talbio.htm and on Facebook.