A "Porn For Women" Channel Is Headed To The U.S.

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You're probably aware by now that most pornography is geared toward men. Still, we've brought you some options for female-driven porn to serve as an alternative. But now, in the Netherlands, there's a new way to describe it: "porna." There, an all-day television channel called Dusk (link NSFW) specializes in porna, and it's soon headed to the U.S.

"If you call it porn, [women] say that's disgusting," Dusk cofounder Martijn Broersma told Fast Company recently. "We invented the word 'porna' to give it a more feminine touch." Interestingly, both Broersma and his partner are men. They employ a panel of about 2,000 women, however, to help them shape the channel's programming. Their goal is to bring Dusk's viewers films, largely directed by women, that feature "extensive foreplay, nice scenery, good lighting and camera work, and sex that is explicit without being overly rough," according to Fast Company.

What does that translate to? In a blog post on Dusk's website, the company explains how the panel's feelings about same-sex porn (which is less popular on Dusk than hetero porn but has the same guidelines, more or less). First, they want realism: "Something that irritates many women is watching fingering sessions in which the woman has long fingernails," writes Dusk. Viewers also want "people being really intimate with each other and experiencing great pleasure." To that end, the company quoted a couple of viewers who remarked, "Personally, I don’t think porn and SM go together" and "I myself don’t like to be subservient to someone else."

But, does Dusk speak for all women? Both heterosexual and gay male porn runs the gamut from having "attractive settings" to BDSM nightmare pits, both tender scenes and ones in which a top is in clear control of the bottom (and, sometimes, vice versa). Would the ladies of Dusk suggest that more hardcore, less sanitized sex is something that only men could find attractive?

You could argue that this is Gloria Steinem's porn vs. erotica distinction at work. In the late 1970s, Steinem wrote, "Erotica is as different from pornography as love is from rape, as dignity is from humiliation, as partnership is from slavery, as pleasure is from pain." (For what it's worth, in the same article she also dismisses Pauline Réage's The Story of O and the Marquis de Sade's oeuvre — famously defended by Simone de Beauvoir — as "supposedly 'literary' forms of pornography.") That's to say, Steinem believes that sexual imagery that does not depict anything but equality and care is worrisome "because sex and violence are so dangerously intertwined and confused."

But, back to Dusk. Couldn't the fact that its panel prefers visually rigorous, female-directed porn with pretty scenery and people who look like they genuinely care for one another indicate that "porn for women" is a genre itself, and that it has its fans just as much as BDSM, gang-bangs, whatever? That is, viewers who seek out "porn for women" constitute a self-selecting audience and might not necessarily represent what all women want.

Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a channel like Dusk, and it's a highly encouraging example of alternatives to the male-dominated mainstream pornography industry. The real question is whether a porn channel could do well in the United States in 2014, when Dusk plans to launch as early as the first quarter. Internet porn, easily available and often for free, is clearly the juggernaut standing in its way. While the hotel room pay-per-view porn industry was going strong in 2006, it can't stay that way. Surely, Dusk will find viewers in America, but it might find more online. (Fast Company)