Porn

ajazmine2Two people who stop time when they orgasm team up to rob banks is Sex Criminals’ basic premise. Written by Matt Fraction with art by Chip Zdarsky, it’s a fairly new comic that’s been getting a lot of attention. The book sounds like it will be a fun sci-fi romp. And it really is. There’s chase scenes and puns and a musical sequence, but there’s more to it than that. It’s about sex and all its weirdness. How awkward it is. How if you have really, really compatible sex with someone after years of feeling isolated by your time-stopping superpowers, it can be hard not to feel like maybe you should spend all your time with that person.

The books centers on two characters: Suzi and Jon. Suzi is a librarian who happens to love sex. Masturbation is a way for her to escape her grief following the murder of her father. She refers to the time-stopped world she reaches through having an orgasm as The Quiet and retreats there when things got too loud. In contrast, Jon mostly uses his power to cause mayhem at a local sex store, Cum World, which he names his time-stopped world after.

Since this is a series about sex, with an issue focusing on a teenage boy’s adventures in a sex shop, the narrative naturally touches on sex workers—in this case, a porn star by the name of Jazmine St. Cocaine. And while I do love this series, and have been recommending it like mad to anyone who will listen, issue two offended me enough that I wrote to the creative team when I first read it a few months ago.

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Feminist_Porn4I’ve seen the question “where is women’s porn, made for women” before, and I’ve seen it answered, but I’ve rarely seen the question “where is black porn, made for black women?” The Feminist Porn Book asks that question and answers it, as well as others: where is feminist porn made for trans women, for fat women, for women with disabilities? This is not tokenism, but rather an attack on heteronormativity from all angles.

The Feminist Porn Book is both refreshing and challenging right off the bat—it announces its title in big yellow letters on its bright pink cover, the proud opposite of discreet brown paper bag packaging. The volume, clocking in at 432 pages, allows enough room to create a delightful blend of the academic and the historical, the personal and the political, mouthy smut with lengthy footnotes. It situates feminist pornography in its rich history in its first section, from Betty Dodson crashing a Women Against Pornography meeting in her leathers to Susie Bright inventing the genre of porn movie review. Then it gets into the meat of the book, which branches off into many herstories and histories, into the many different politicized identities, theories, and sexualities that make up our porn today; bringing womanism, intersectionality, and labor analysis back to porn while not settling for the more facile simplifications of “sex positivity”. READ MORE

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Sophia St James is all smiles. The former stripper and current queer pornographer, activist, and sex educator, had taken a seat on the soft couch of the quiet, NE Portland feminist bookstore. The perpetually busy James had found a few minutes from her day to meet with me and I was thrilled.

So, how would you describe yourself?

Oh, wow. I’m a fierce femme, a go-getter, self-reliant and independent. I’m sensual, sexual, playful. “Queer” is a very individualized definition. I define myself as queer because I like all genders, but I would say I have a preference for women and trans people.

How are you active as a sex worker?

I’m a co-representative of SWOP. The Portland one is relatively new, but there are several in the US.

What is SWOP?

SWOP stands for Sex Worker Outreach Project. It was founded in October 2003 under the direction of Robyn Few (who recently passed on September 13th after a long battle with cancer). SWOP at the basic foundation is a anti-violence campaign. SWOP has chapters in several states and we all work together as sex workers and sex worker ally advocates to address local and national violence that sex workers experience based on their criminal status in this country. [READ MORE]

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After Porn Ends(2010)

by Charlotte Shane on September 20, 2012 · 6 comments

in Porn, Reviews

The unfortunate thing about a film as honest as After Porn Ends is how disingenuously it can be used by those with an anti-porn bias. The Huffington Post declared that the film “reveals the dark side” of the porn industry, an angle that LA Weekly and Inquisitr, solely based on a viewing of the trailer, echoed—as though porn is usually regarded by the public as harmless and wholesome as Disney films.  But After Porn Ends, much like porn itself, embraces all comers. (Heh heh insert stupid pun here.) There’s room for the born-again Christians who crusade against the industry on a whole, just as there’s room for former performers who say “I’m happy I did it” and “[being in porn] has changed me for the better.” Each subject is given plenty of nonjudgmental camera time, salacious details are few and far between, and there’s a refreshing lack of ominous or plaintive music played over the dialogue. Aside from one mean-spirited moment of editing, when Mary Carey is shown checking with someone off-camera to make sure she pronounces “unprecedented” correctly before talking about her run for California governor, the filmmakers seem respectful and gentle with their subjects. How could they be otherwise? One of film’s focuses is how stigmatized performers are by the same civilians who regularly consume their work. [READ MORE]

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