”I don’t know if you’re hitting on me, or if you’re just someone who talks about sex all the time”
– Tinder date.
Hello perverts and welcome to the first issue of PEGGY!
So, why do we need to talk about porn? Well, because sometimes being a feminist and someone who’s into watching porn can feel a bit confusing, like isn’t it supposed to be degrading to women or something? Last year I attended a conference in Denmark about gender studies and Finish feminist scholar Susanna Paasonen was presenting her analysis of pornography. Paasonen, a neat-looking professor with a green silk scarf, looked nothing like I’d imagined someone who has dedicated most of her professional life to investigating smut would look. But then, had I actually met anyone who studied porn before? Paasonen started out by saying something that got my mind going: “To me the question are you for or against porn? is just as difficult to answer as are you for or against comics? – like, which comics are you talking about?”
During the Porn Wars in the 80’s feminists were divided into those who were completely anti-porn, claiming that porn is inherently oppressive to women, and those who defended porn as a genre but acknowledged that improvements could be made. Defending porn as a genre is not the same as defending all of what it currently consists of. The problem with anti-porn’s assumption is that it misses the complexity of the many sexual desires that are reflected in porn. To claim that all porn is bad would be the same as saying that all sex is inherently oppressive to women, or that women are debased just because they have sex on camera. Anti-porn advocates also fail to acknowledge that some people actually want to be dominated and/or humiliated sexually. We all have different cravings and what appears degrading to one person might fulfil another person’s desire. Does being into getting spanked, gagged, and called names (or getting off on doing these things to others) make someone less of a feminist or less deserving of other people’s respect?
When the word pornography first appeared in the early 19th century, it meant ”something obscene, which is forbidden.” Then Denmark became the first country in the world to legalize the whole shebang, which you can read more about in this issue of PEGGY. But much have happened since then. Today pro-porn feminists are applying feministic values to the adult industry, bringing more awareness on and off camera to matters like representation and work conditions.
Whenever porn is debated, the opinions of the people who actually work in the industry are often left out. I have even seen sex-positive feminist magazines thematize porn but somehow fail to include the voices of the performers themselves. I knew from the beginning that this would not be one of those instances. The porn industry is complicated and multifaceted, but it is also full of really cool and inspiring people, who work hard for their ambitions while having to put up with sometimes judgmental assumptions from the outside, because they’ve chosen a career in a field whose complexity many people lack understanding of. Erika Lust and Nikki Darling, two incredible women that I got to interview for this issue of PEGGY, are both part of the adult industry but at the same time and in various ways, they challenge it from the inside.
So, why have we decided to call the first issue of PEGGY Future Porn? We could also have named it “feminist porn” but by adding the word “future” to the content that we’ve chosen to bring, we’re simply saying that the future is feministic. We’re guessing, we’re hoping, we’re even rebelling!
Oh, and the cat theme… Well, cats go with anything, right?