SHE LIKES IT : Manifesto


In the new adult films for grown-up women, I want to see women deciding how porn will represent us. I want to see women being women—women like you and me, women with feelings, education, and jobs, women who are mothers, married, divorced, and single, women who are lovers, young women and grown women, thin and curvy women, all enjoying their sexuality and enjoying themselves in the sexual situations that arise in movies.
The expression of women’s sexuality is powerful, and maybe that bothers some men. Maybe they would rather believe that the only sexually attractive women are sluts, prostitutes, and hotties, and that all the rest are innocent creatures. Very few men like thinking about the sexuality of their mothers, sisters, and daughters. And yet the fact is, all of us are sexual beings, not just the Jenna Jamesons.

I don’t plan to sit around waiting for a response from the pornographic film industry, and I’m not waiting around for the industry to reevaluate its fundamental, deeply rooted beliefs about female sexuality. If we don’t do that ourselves, the industry certainly won’t do it for us. Our society has a tendency to dismiss porn as marginal and insignificant, to believe that it doesn’t impinge on other areas of life. But it does. Porn isn’t just porn. It’s a discourse, a way of talking about sex.

It’s a way of seeing and understanding masculinity and femininity. But this discourse and the theory behind it are almost 100 percent male (and often sexist as well). There are almost no women’s voices in this universe of discourse, just as there were no women’s voices until recently in the worlds of politics and big business.

I believe that as women we have the right to enjoy adult films, and so I think we have to demand our share of the content of this discourse. We have to be creators—screenwriters, producers, and directors.

I recently became a mother, and when my daughter becomes a teenager and sees her first adult films, I think I’ll want her to take away positive messages about sexuality, with feminist values and discourses. I don’t want Rocco, Nacho, Marc Dorcel, Private, and Penthouse to be the ones explaining the world to her through sexually explicit films. It’s not that I want to impose some kind of feminist censorship on the world of adult-oriented entertainment. The men who create that world will always have their point of view, and I accept and respect that. I just want their point of view not to be the only one. I want a porn with diversity of opinion.

Like or not, these days we live in a porn-saturated society. There’s porn all over the Internet, and there’s porn in the media. Porn has come out of its dark closet. In this environment, it’s very important for women to take a critical approach to porn, constantly analyzing and challenging the values that porn transmits.

The sexist values perpetuated by movies and advertising came in for a lot of criticism during the feminist explosion of the 1960s and 1970s. Women today need to bring the same critical awareness to adult films. We can’t just turn our backs on porn and think it doesn’t matter because men are the only ones looking at it. Even if that were true, what men are seeing and learning also affects us. Lots of men understand and interpret female sexuality through porn.

I believe that women’s participation in pornographic discourse will give us an excellent opportunity to explain our sexuality to men in a way that’s both vivid and explicit. What better way to help them grasp something that we know all about, but that they find so hard to understand?

Erika Lust

Barcelona, November 2008