Feminism is not a dirty word

Be honest, when you hear the word “feminism,” what images spring to mind? Let me guess, “butch” lesbian women with hairy legs and an outspoken hatred of men? Germaine Greer?

When you think of feminism you might see the now infamous “You can do it” poster  (despite the fact that this poster was designed to boost the morale of factory workers during the second world war) but what you should be confronted with is not an image but an idea.

The infamous "we can do it!" poster

The infamous “we can do it!” poster

Feminism by definition is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and when I refer to myself as a feminist, this is what I mean.

I don’t hate men, I believe that men and women should be equal.

I believe in equal pay for equal work.

I believe I should be afforded the same opportunities as men in work and education.

I also believe that feminism is about the freedom of choice, so if a woman chooses to be a housewife, that’s fine, as long as it’s her choice. If another woman chooses not to have children, that’s fine too.

A lot of people feel that there is no longer a need for feminism, we can vote, we have female leaders, paid maternity leave, what more could we possibly want?

Working in IT, a field generally dominated by men, has proved to me that there is still a need for feminism. When I call up certain manufacturers for support for their products they will often assume that I am a secretary or speak to me as if I am stupid. I have called up to try and organise a repair only to be asked “have you plugged the computer in?”

It’s not just in the professional sector I come across these problems. As a consumer, when I am buying something from an electronics store I find I usually need to take my Dad or another adult male with me just so I can get service. We will then be served by a man who will speak only to the man with me. If I ask a question, the response will be directed to my male counterpart. I don’t know if this is because they think he will have all the money or if it’s because they just don’t want to overload me with technical details and confuse my pretty little head. Generally, I think it’s the latter based on when I bought a laptop the one time the guy did talk to me was to tell me that “this one comes in pink.” (If you are wondering, no, I did not buy my laptop from there.)

With Julia Gillard as Prime Minister of Australia there is the feeling that, “this is it.” We made it. We broke the glass ceiling. Just one look at the shit Julia Gillard has to put up with proves this is not the case. I am not a supporter of Gillard’s but I do believe that she gets more abuse than she deserves purely because she is a woman. Not just a woman, but an unmarried, atheist woman. She has been called “barren” by members of the opposition because she doesn’t have children. These things have nothing to do with how she leads the country, yet they keep being bought up.  (I am aware of the irony of me bringing it up to prove my point so no need to point that out to me.)

Then you have Beyonce, arguably one of the most powerful women in the world, who calls herself a feminist. That’s great. I just wish she had done it while wearing clothes and not on a men’s magazine. I stand by Beyonce’s choice and right to pose in underwear if she wants to, I don’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is saying you’re a feminist whilst posing in a sexually suggestive manner for a men’s magazine which you know will objectify you. It kind of defeats the purpose.

Beyonce on the cover of GQ whilst speaking about feminism

Beyonce on the cover of GQ whilst speaking about feminism

I don’t believe we need an entirely new feminist movement but we do need to keep working. It’s something that needs to stay in public discussion. Germaine Greer and Beyonce do not speak for me. I speak for myself and I think all women should.

Literally I Can’t Believe this Song Exists

Could this be 2014’s answer to last year’s rape anthem “blurred lines?” I think so…I think the record company has come to learn that too because this message now pops up at the start of the song:

This message pops up when the video starts

This message pops up when the video starts

“The following is a satirical video based on Sororities/Fraternities and the cliche “Literally I Can’t”.

This content is in no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any groups of people. It is an art piece and it shall be taken as such.”

The whole song is basically telling girls to “shut the fuck up” and now the disclaimer is saying this shall be taken as an art piece. I can’t help but feel that should say should be taken as such…but I’m female so they have the right to tell me what to do. We also clearly have very different ideas about what constitutes “art.” I would call this trash but, once again, female, therefore I should just shut up.

If I hear any little girls singing this (and I’m sure I will), I will die a little inside.

Here’s the lovely video:

And the lyrics (taken from http://artists.letssingit.com/play-n-skillz-lyrics-literally-i-cant-feat-enertia-mcfly-lil-jon-and-redfoo-f4gg5d9#axzz3JEEVkt5o):

[Intro: Lil Jon]
Hey!!! (HEY!)
Ladies and gentlemen, (YEAH!)
It’s time to party! (PARTY!)
So that means (WHAT?)
While I’m at my mother fucking table (UH HUH)
And I’m trying to dance (UH HUH)
Don’t fucking talk to me! (LET’S GO!)

[Hook: Play-N-Skillz & Lil Jon]
A shot of vodka?
I can’t
Tequila?
I can’t
After party? (PARTY, PARTY, PARTY)
I can’t
Literally, I can’t (EW)
Literally, I can’t (EW)
Literally, I can’t (EW)
Literally, I can’t (EW)
Literally, I can’t
(LET’S GO!)
Wanna dance?
I can’t
Where your friends?
I can’t
Girl on girl?
I can’t
Literally, (EW) I can’t
Literally, (EW) I can’t
Literally, (EW) I can’t
Literally, (EW) I can’t
OMG, STFU!
SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Redfoo!!!!! (OH! LET’S ROCK!)

[Verse 1: Redfoo]
Yo! We in the club
We bottle poppin’
We sippin’ that bubbly
We-we-we Party Rockin’
You got a big ol’ butt
I can tell by the way you’re walkin’
But you annoying me ’cause you’re talkin’ (STFU!)
Bounce on the pogo
Jump on the jack hammer
Get low, low, low
While I Instagram ya
Shhh, don’t talk about it, be about it
Work it and twerk it, and maybe I’ll tweet about it
They’ll read about it
And you could be winnin’
I said jump on the poll
I didn’t mean your opinion
Gurrrrl I’m sippin’ on this drink
I’m tryna see what you got
Not tryna hear what you think

[Hook: Play-N-Skillz & Lil Jon]
A shot of vodka?
I can’t
Tequila?
I can’t
After party?
I can’t
Literally, I can’t
Literally, I can’t
Literally, I can’t
Literally, I can’t
OMG, STFU
SHUT THE FUCK UP!

[Verse 2 Enertia McFly]
Look… I’m tryna get your fine ass on the dance flo
Girl I wanna see you get low
Go ahead and bring it up slow
You’re booty in my hand is my new motto
Got the face of a model
Put your lips on my bottle
Let me see you take it to the head
Girl I know that you can
I don’t wanna hear no
Girl have you heard of my new super friends?
Play-N-Skillz, Redfoo and Lil Jon they comin’ in
And turn the party to a crazy mad house
Going all night until I just black out
After I do all that we can make out
Girl you know what Enertia all about

[Hook: Play-N-Skillz & Lil Jon]
A shot of vodka?
I can’t
Tequila?
I can’t
After party?
I can’t
Literally, I can’t (EW)
Literally, I can’t (EW)
Literally, I can’t (EW)
Literally, I can’t (EW)
Literally, I can’t
(LET’S GO!)
Wanna dance?
I can’t
Where your friends?
I can’t
Girl on girl?
I can’t
Literally, (EW) I can’t
Literally, (EW) I can’t
Literally, (EW) I can’t
Literally, (EW) I can’t
OMG, STFU!
SHUT THE FUCK UP!

You can judge for yourselves.

The Ched Evans Issue

I was born on Wednesday in April 1989, I was supposed to go home on Saturday but Dad was at an FA cup game. Almost eight years earlier my parents got married in the Summer because my Nana couldn’t possibly risk missing a home game. I had no chance, I was born into football. I love it. However, as a woman, I do have issues with the way some players treat women.

I’ve watched Norwich my whole life and I always have a favourite player. When we signed Ched Evans on loan in 2007 I was ecstatic, not just because he was a brilliant but also because he was freaking cute! Living in Australia, I couldn’t go to the games so I would bug my Nana to get things signed for me. I kept his posters and cards on my wall.

As I grew up, the posters came down, Evans went back to Manchester City and then to Sheffield United, but the posters remained in a box beneath my bed, still treasured possessions.

When he was charged with rape in 2011, I avoided reading about it. When he was convicted in 2012 my world crumbled. I made a public show of ripping up my posters and throwing them on the ground (yeh I know I was 23 at the time and acting like a teenager). I was disgusted. My Nana had died in 2009 and during one of her last seasons of watching football I had sent her chasing after a rapist. He would have known her. I felt physically ill, but more than that, I felt betrayed.

I felt betrayed by the sport that was a significant part of my identity and betrayed by the individual who I had looked up to, can you blame me for ripping up things?

In case you are not aware of the story here’s what happened:
Evans and fellow-footballer Clayton McDonald were charged with the rape of a 19 year old woman who was too drunk to consent.
Allegedly McDonald met the girl, who he claims was very coherent and she wanted to go back to his hotel with him. He agreed and on the way text Evans to say he had met a girl.
She apparently initiated sex with McDonald, then Evans came around and McDonald asked if Evans could join. The woman allegedly consented but the next morning awoke naked and alone in the hotel room with very little memory of what had happened.
While McDonald was cleared of all charges (something I still don’t understand), Evans was found guilty of rape and sentenced to 5 years in prison.
Evans has not denied having sex with the girl but continues to maintain his innocence because she consented.
In another cruel twist, some people released the victim’s name on Twitter, which of course led to her being harassed by supporters of Evans.

Evans was released from prison in the 17th October this year after serving just 2 and half years of his 5 year sentence. Now if that was where this story ended that would be fine, but sadly it’s not. This week Evans resumed training with his former club Sheffield United. I know I am usually one of the most vocal advocates for giving second chances, but when it comes to public figures, they unfortunately do need to be held to a higher standard.

By allowing Ched Evans to train with the team and paving the way for him to resume his footballing career, Sheffield United are sending a message to their young supporters that rape is a forgiveable offence. It’s not. The Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA) have argued that if Evans was a builder or a banker he would be allowed to resume that type of work without any issues. The problem is builders and bankers do not have fans, particularly young impressionable ones, who come and watch them work, they don’t have kids asking for autographs and telling them they want to be “just like them” (apart from their own kids, probably.)

The other problem is Evans’ lack of remorse for his actions. He’s not sorry he did it, he’s sorry he got caught. He walks around playing the victim, telling of how his life has been ruined by this incident. If it has, it’s his own fault. He was not overtly intoxicated on the night in question, he knew what he was doing. He is NOT the victim here, the victim is the young woman he took advantage of and who was named and subject to abuse and harassment on Twitter.

I might be slightly more sympathetic to Evans if he admitted to his actions, but he still maintains his innocence and continues to try and “clear his name.” When released from jail, his first action was to issue an apology, not to his victim, but to his family and partner. If Evans would like to resume his role as a public figure and role model for children, the least he can do is acknowledge that he did something wrong and apologise to his victim. He should be donating to and working with women’s groups to educate young people and inform them that an intoxicated person cannot consent and this is rape. Instead he is refusing to even acknowledge the suffering he has cause this young woman.

While I understand that his family and partner want to stand by him and not believe the worst but he has been convicted. By posting on their website chedevans.com some of the evidence from the trial including the security footage of the young woman entering the hotel and asking you to “judge for yourself,” they are undermining the victim and the justice system. Yes, we all know that the justice system can get it wrong but showing a blurry, time-lapse video of the victim and then extrapolating that she must be able to consent because she does not fall down is beyond insulting. (The fact that 30 seconds of the video also appear to have been edited out is slightly concerning.) Whenever a woman says she is raped, there should NEVER, EVER be a reason to question that.

Just so we are very, VERY clear. Rape is rape, regardless of the circumstances. Even if a woman does seem to consent, if she’s so drunk she can barely stand then she CANNOT consent and this IS RAPE. If a woman at first consents then asks to stop mid-act but the other party continues, this is rape. If a woman says no but, in the words of Robin Thicke, “you know she wants it,” and you go for it anyway, this is rape.

Regardless of how you feel about Evans and his and Sheffield United’s reaction, it is important to remember who the victim is here, not Evans and his family, but the young woman who was raped. I’m glad I ripped up my posters.

If you would like to sign the Change petition to encourage Sheffield United not to reinstate Ched Evans, please go here.

Alternatively, if you think he should be reinstated, there’s also a petition for that here.

If you would like to know more, below are the articles I used to help me write this.

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/nov/11/ched-evans-to-train-with-sheffield-united-according-to-reports

http://www.insidetime.co.uk/articleview.asp?a=1878&c=the_right_to_work 

http://chedevans.com/

http://www.pinkun.com/opinion/iwan_roberts_there_is_no_way_i_d_want_to_share_a_dressing_room_with_ched_evans_1_3819337

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ched-evans-vile-rapist-deserves-4611322 

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/its-not-enough-that-a-court-of-law-has-found-ched-evans-guilty-he-also-has-to-endure-the-court-of-public-opinion-9856318.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11226209/Ched-Evans-Sorry-but-all-rapes-are-not-the-same.html

Sex Education

I’ve just returned to university to do my Masters in IT and during my orientation I learnt several things. While most of them were relevant to the course and university there were two other things that stood out.

First, next to the IT office is the student office where you can get free condoms (because of course it’s the IT students who are going to need condoms.)

The second was along with condoms, you can also get dental dams.

For those of you who don’t know what a dental dam is, it’s a little square of latex that dentists use to isolate the tooth they’re treating. 

Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why these are supplied with condoms. Basically they’re for use when performing oral sex on a woman. (If you want more detail, Glyde, who make dental dams have also produced this pamphlet.)

I am 24 and I learnt this two weeks ago, which leads me to ask two questions;

1. Why did I not know this?
2. Who’s responsibility was it to teach me?

These are two questions that should probably be looked at together. 

Simply put, I didn’t know because no one told me and when I think about it, I don’t know whose job it was to teach me.

I went to a public school and we did have sex education as part of science in year 7 but it wasn’t really about sex it was more about the reproductive process. We didn’t cover condoms at all.

There was more comprehensive sex education taught in year 10 where I know they were taught how to use condoms but it was taught in health which was an elective. I didn’t do this class because I chose what I considered to be more “fun” electives (i.e. drama/art classes) and I’m not sure what percentage of kids in my year level would have taken it.

Next, there’s my parents who have never really given me “the talk.” I think Mum probably tried and I just put my hand over my ears and told her we had covered it in school.

Seeing as most of my peers were at school with me, I doubt they were taught this either. The ones I have spoken to recently have confirmed that they have never heard of using dental dams as protection.

Then there was that whole Michael Douglas “oral sex gave me throat cancer” thing a few months ago which would have been the perfect opportunity to bring this up. Yet despite the fact Cosmo Australia had a whole article on HPV in their August issue, the use of dental dams was not mentioned. In fact, although they confirmed that you can give your partner HPV through oral sex, their conclusion was;

“We can go forth and enjoy sexy times, so long as we’re being safe and keeping up with our regular Pap smears.”

That’s it. No mention of what “safe” involves. Just keep having checks. 

Thanks to Girls (ah Lena Dunham, is there anything you CAN’T do!) I know that men can’t get tested for HPV and that also once you have it there’s not a definitive cure for it. You can treat certain symptoms depending on the strain, but you can’t get rid of it completely. So isn’t more important to teach prevention?

Cosmo magazine and its younger sisters Dolly and Girlfriend always go on about condoms, condoms, condoms and using them when performing oral sex on men, which is fair enough, they’re important but if dental dams can prevent HPV aren’t they important too?

Even the Australian Government’s Health Department’s HPV page doesn’t cover it. It’s only about the vaccine. 

Neither does bioCSL’s site http://www.hpv.com.au/.

So maybe I’m not the only one that doesn’t know, but this is something that clearly needs to be taught.

Surely the fact, that at age 24, I only just discovered this is proof we need better sex education programs in our schools and in the community in general.

 

 

The Natural Beauty Myth

To most people, a natural beauty is someone who looks amazing without the use of make-up, surgery or photoshop, in other words someone who looks amazing NATURALLY.

I first got the idea for this post when I was reading an article on Vice.com written by pornstar Stoya (if you’ve read my previous post on porn, you would know not to judge her on her profession, she’s very intelligent and insightful.) She is often touted as the “natural” porn star because she hasn’t had any obvious plastic surgery but she still dyes her hair, wears make-up and puts a lot of effort into her appearance in general. (You can read her full article here.)

Today when I went to have a shower I suddenly realised how much time and effort I put in to make myself appear naturally beautiful but unlike Stoya, my body is not my primary source of income so why do I do it?

First – The Hair

My hair products.

My hair products.

My hair tools.

My hair tools.

If you’ve read my other blog you will know about my need for numerous hair products and the issues I have with my hair.

I don’t spend all that long in the actual shower – I shampoo once, then condition. I leave the conditioner in for a few minutes (with the water off environmentalists!) and then rinse it out. I then spend most of the time on my hair afterwards – mainly because my hair has an annoying tendency to knot in the shower so I have to spend about 15 minutes detangle-ing it then it’s blow dried and then straightened. Or if I’m feeling lazy it will be half blow-dried then braided. Either way it will take me anywhere from half and hour to an hour to do my hair AFTER the shower.

I also spend a lot of money on my hair. My hair is only cut by my hair dresser. I then have to buy professional and natural products because otherwise my hair becomes oily and they cost me about $20 per bottle and then there’s the tools, consisting of the $300 GHD and the $200 Parlux hair drier.

All up:
Time: Approximately 60 minutes every second day.
Cost: $1000+ per annum (includes products, hair cuts, tools, etc.)

Second – The Face

My face products.

My face products.

My skin is incredibly important to me because it’s one of those things that cannot be replaced. You only get one shot at it.

I’m English and a red-head so I am really, really, REALLY sensitive to the sun, meaning I always use sun screen.

In the morning I wash my face with just water then I apply eye cream in a complex little massage (because God forbid you should just rub it on) and then a moisturiser with SPF 15. Once a week I will also exfoliate in the morning.

Then  before bed I will remove my make-up (if I’m wearing any), wash my face with cleanser then apply moisturiser. Once a week I will add a face mask to this process.

If I have any pimples, I will apply a product over them.

Once a fortnight I will also pluck my eyebrows.

All up:
Time: Approximately 30 – 60 minutes per day.
Cost: $250 – 300 per annum

Third – The Body

The Body

My body products and tools.

Hands-down (pun intended) my body takes up the most amount of time.

Once a month I will wax my arms, legs and bikini and then spend several minutes with a mirror and tweezers removing any stray hairs. This process can take up to an hour.

I will then spend 15 – 30 minutes washing, exfoliating and, if need be, shaving in the shower.

Then I moisturise all over (with several different moisturisers, each for different areas) and apply sun screen to any exposed skin.

I brush my teeth twice daily (just like a normal person) and apply hand cream and lip balm constantly throughout the day.

All up:
Time: Approximately 30 – 90 minutes per day.
Cost: $250+ per annum.

The Totals

So in total I will spend at least $1500 a year and 1 hour per day on my appearance.

Why

So why do I got through all of this? I don’t do this for anyone else, I do it for me  (okay, if I have a date I might make sure everything is done that day.) To me it’s important to look after my appearance. But do I still think it’s an exorbitant amount of time to spend on just trying to look natural, yes. Maybe it’s part of my OCD that stops me from being able to be comfortable without going through all of this. I’m currently ill and I’ve spent the last 10 days in bed, yet I still feel the need to fulfill all this.

I wouldn’t generally describe myself as high maintenance and if you looked at me you probably wouldn’t think of me as high maintenance either.  I haven’t had plastic surgery, I don’t wear false nails or eyelashes or even all that much make up (and keep in mind that I have not included my make up in this process.) All of this is not in the quest for beauty but in the quest for NATURAL beauty and when you think about it, there is nothing natural about this process. Stoya’s right when she says that “natural beauty” is just another marketing tool.

I bet some of you are reading this and thinking that you can think of several examples of a naturally beautiful woman but I guarantee you that any woman who looks stunning without make up will still go through at least part of this arduous process first. To me, a true natural beauty will be a woman who only washes with soap and water, can just towel dry her hair without using any product, doesn’t feel the need to remove all of her body hair or moisturise every day.

Former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins bared all for Marie Claire magazine a few years ago in an un-photoshopped shoot but I can guarantee you that she probably went through a ridiculously thorough beauty regime before this and that she probably has an even more arduous routine than me generally.

Jennifer Hawkins un-photoshopped.

Jennifer Hawkins un-photoshopped.

The thing about bisexuality

While flicking through Andrew Sullivan’s blog ‘The Dish‘ the other day I came across an article under the heading ‘Keeper Archives’ titled ‘What’s A Bisexual Anyway?‘ Being someone who generally identifies as bisexual I was rather intrigued. The article is a collection of comments on a previous article Sullivan had written about a Pew Research poll that showed 40% of the LGBT population identified as bisexual, which he felt was unusually high. What is also interesting is, according to the poll, only 28 per cent of bisexuals have ‘come out’ in comparison to over 70 per cent of gays and lesbians.

Sullivan’s question was; is there a hidden gay population that doesn’t interact with the rest of the gay and lesbian community?

The responses were overwhelming, with many questioning what it is to be bisexual and why so many are still in the closet.

The Merriam Webster definition of bisexual is;

of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward both sexes

This is also the definition I use. Bisexuality is not about whether you’ve experimented with a person of the same sex and enjoyed it, it’s when you’re physically attracted to someone of the same sex.

Some people have questioned whether bisexuality actually exists. As Dan Savage has pointed out in his response to being called biphobic, the reason he has questioned the existence of bisexuality is because many homosexuals use it as a stepping stone to coming out. Celebrities such as Elton John and Freddie Mercury have first referred to themselves as bisexual before entering into same sex relationships.

The problem with bisexuality is that, at the end of the day if you fall in love and enter a monogamous relationship with someone it will be either a hetrosexual or homosexual relationship. Although bisexuals do exist, bisexual relationships do not and that is the downfall of bisexuality. Anna Paquin and Evan Rachel Wood have both come out as bisexual and have married men, which has led to their sexuality being questioned, with one person asking Evan Rachel Wood after her marriage to Jaime Bell, “Honestly not trying to be an ass. Just trying to understand. Does this mean you are not bi anymore? How does that work?” To which Wood replied “No, it just means I am not single anymore. ;)”

One father whose daughter is bisexual felt that his daughter was ostracised by both the straight and gay communities. He suspected the gay community felt threatened by bisexuals because they contradict the theory that homosexuality is not a choice because they can choose, but this is not true. In fact this is not true for anyone bisexual, gay or straight. We don’t choose who we fall in love with or who we’re attracted to, that’s why we fall for people we know we shouldn’t. That’s why sometimes we just can’t love that person who seems perfect.

My sexuality has been questioned many times with people asking why I call myself bisexual when I was in a nearly 7 year relationship with a man. When I told another friend her response was, “but you’ll probably end up married to man so it doesn’t really matter.”

That’s why I felt the need to write this. It does matter. My sexuality is a big part of who I am and no matter who I end up marrying it will always be part of who I am.

There’s no logic in love nor is there choice but there should always be acceptance.

 

Chivalry Shouldn’t be Dead

I was reading Cosmo and I came across a short but interesting article written from a male perspective about chivalry (Cosmopolitan August 2013, pg 181.) The author, Sean Powers (@powersoz on Twitter if you’re interested) was told by his female friends that it was sexist to offer to help a woman carry her bag, to open a door for her or to pay for the bill.

I’ve had this discussion with friends before. When I was in Boston a few years ago I was quite shocked when men stood up and offered me their seat on the train. Some of my friends rolled their eyes and accused me of playing the poor damsel in distress, but I didn’t see it that way, he was just being polite. 

It’s the same with opening doors and offering to help me with my bags, I know when someone does things they’re not doing it because they think my femininity makes me incompetent but because it’s polite.

It’s the same concept as when I offer my seat on a train to an elderly person, I’m not being ageist, I’m being polite and respectful. 

However, just because I believe in chivalry does not mean I expect a man to pay for everything or to always carry my things, it’s just nice for them to offer sometimes.

Feminism vs Pornography

(Or why feminists need to stop worrying and learn to accept the adult industry.)

We’ve come a long way since the “sexual revolution” of the 1960’s and it was only a matter of time before the evolution of female sexuality led to the creation of pornography made with female viewers in mind. This type of pornography is often referred to as “female friendly” or feminist porn. But can any type of pornography truly be feminist? Many feminists see any form of pornography as the epitome of misogyny due to objectification of women it presents. They assume that the women depicted in the films are failed actresses who are only doing it for the money, but what if they want to do it? (*GASP*) What if they enjoy it or find it empowering? (*Double gasp*) How can feminists hate a life a woman has chose? Especially when it’s in one of the very few industries where women consistently earn more than men?

There are many conflicting ideas about what constitutes feminist pornography, feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino describes her version as pornography made “under fair, ethical working conditions…that does not demean women or men.”[1] To be eligible for a Feminist Porn Award the production must meet at least one of the following three criteria;

  1. Women and/or traditionally marginalized people were involved in the direction, production and/or conception of the work.

  2. The work depicts genuine pleasure, agency and desire for all performers, especially women and traditionally marginalized people.

  3. The work expands the boundaries of sexual representation on film, challenges stereotypes and presents a vision that sets the content apart from most mainstream pornography.  This may include depicting a diversity of desires, types of people, bodies, sexual practices, and/or an anti-racist or anti-oppression framework throughout the production.[2]

For me any pornography that is fully consensual can be feminist.

However many women feel they can’t watch mainstream pornography because it makes them feel “alienated.” [3] Majority of the female stars are what we imagine to be the stereotypical  porn star – young, long blonde hair, thin but with large breasts and mainly white.[4]  They wear make-up that looks like it’s been applied by trowel and teeter around precariously in ridiculously high heels and ridiculously short skirts. They are coy yet overtly sexual at the same time, giving an innocent doe-eyed look through a thick set of false lashes before engaging sexual activity. The slightest touch cause them to writhe and scream out in pleasure. Feminist porn tries to break down these stereotypes by employing women who “look like the average woman walking down the street”[5] and portraying sex that is “authentic.”[6]

Many feminists will argue that any porn, regardless of consent, production and pleasure is misogynist. Anti-porn activist Gail Dines argues that “anyone willing to feed off women’s bodies and use them as raw materials to make a profit has no right to call themselves feminists.”[7] This includes women involved in any part of the production of pornography. But if we were to follow that logic, pornography is basically misanthropic because human beings of both genders are being used as props to make money.

My main issue is how can feminists be so staunchly against the one of the very few industries where women consistently earn more than men? The gender pay gap in Australia across all industries currently stands at 17.5 per cent. For every one dollar a man earns, women are earning 82.3 cents.[8] In the United States it’s even worse with women only earning 77 cents for every dollar a man earns in 2011.[9] Of the top 20 highest earning porn stars an incredible 75 per cent are women.[10] Compare this to the 20 richest bankers, where all are white men.[11] Porn star and one of the only five men in the 20 richest porn stars list, Ron Jeremy estimates that men will earn around $300 per scene and make an average of $40 000 a year in the porn business whereas women will earn $500 to $1500 per scene and can earn anywhere from $100 000 to $250 000 per year.[12]

If you’re like me, you probably assumed that most women in pornography were naive, failed actresses who have hit rock bottom and would do anything to make a living. While this was true back in the 1970’s when Linda Boreman (better known as Linda Lovelace) was forced to perform in Deep Throat at gunpoint by her husband  Chuck Traynor[13], many women today actually choose a career in the adult industry. Current contract star for Digital Playground, Kayden Kross told documentary film maker Deborah Anderson;

“I didn’t get into [porn] because I was desperate. I got into it because I was bored. I had an education, and nothing else appealed to me like this. I’m not going to lie or be ashamed. I like the money. I like perks. I like … sex! I was always a very sexual person, and this offered me an opportunity to make a pretty good living using that. What I wanted to do far outweighed any worries I might have had about what people thought.”[14]

Fellow Digital Playground contract girl Stoya is a regular contributor for Vice where she offers her thoughts on the industry. She says that the adult industry offers you a choice of what roles you want to do and no one can force you to do a scene you’re not comfortable with.[15]

Most of the feminist stances against pornography can be described as anti-feminist themselves. Shouldn’t the basis of feminism be choice? Women have the choice to work in whatever industry appeals to them and they shouldn’t be judged for those choices by other women. We assume these women are unintelligent and victims of society but they’re not and it’s unfair to stereotype them that way. They have more of a choice over their work lives than most of us. It takes a lot of confidence to do what they do, how many of us would be willing to strip down to nothing day in and day out? As Madeline Albright, the first female Secretary of State said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” and it shouldn’t matter if we approve of their profession or not.


[1] Tristan Taormino, “What is Feminist Porn?” http://puckerup.com/feminist-porn/what-is-fp/, accessed 29th June 2013.

[2] Good for Her, “Feminist Porn Awards,” http://goodforher.com/feminist_porn_awards, accessed 29th June 2013.

[3] Dylan Ryan, “How I Became a Feminist Porn Star,” on Jezebel, http://jezebel.com/5984021/how-i-became-a-feminist-porn-star, 23rd February 2013, accessed 29th June 2013.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Maura Kelly, “Can Porn be Feminist?” on The Daily Beast, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/21/can-porn-be-feminist.html, 21st April 2012, accessed 28th June 2013.

[6] Ryan, “How I Became a Feminist Porn Star,” http://jezebel.com/5984021/how-i-became-a-feminist-porn-star

[8] Rosie Squires, “Ditch the Pay Gap,” in Cleo July 2013, pg 55.

[9] Mike Burns and Olivia Willis, “As Equal Pay Act Turns 50 Conservative Media Continue Crusade Against Closing Gender Wage Gap,” on Media Matters, http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/06/10/as-equal-pay-act-turns-50-conservative-media-co/194405, 10th June 2013, accessed 30th June 2013.

[10] Brian Warner, “20 Richest Porn Stars,” on Celebrity Net Worth, http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/entertainment-articles/20-richest-porn-stars/, 1st February 2013, accessed 28th June 2013

[11] Lisa Du, “The 22 Richest Bankers in the World,” on Business Insider Australia, http://au.businessinsider.com/the-richest-bankers-in-the-world-2012-3?op=1#alfredo-harp-helu-and-family-1, 13th March 2012, accessed 30th June 2013.

[12] Hariharan, “20 Most Richest Porn Stars on Earth,” on World of Female, http://www.worldoffemale.com/20-most-richest-porn-stars-on-earth-sfw/, 8th June 2013, accessed 30th June 2013.

[13] Tom Leonard, “Abused by the porn industry AND her feminist saviours: How Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace’s tragic life was a very modern morality tale,” on The Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2120823/How-Deep-Throat-star-Linda-Lovelaces-tragic-life-modern-morality-tale.html, 26th March 2012, accessed 1st July 2013.

[14] Mike Hammer, “Deborah Anderson’s book and film ‘Aroused’ looks at the people behind the porn industry,” on New York Daily News, http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/update-nudes-aroused-eyes-porn-stars-article-1.1333286?localLinksEnabled=false, 3rd May 2013, accessed 29th June 2013.

[15] Stoya, “So You Want to Perform in Porn,” on Vice, http://www.vice.com/read/so-you-want-to-perform-in-porn, 8th June 2013, accessed 28th June 2013.