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Porn That's GOOD For Women (NSFW)

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    Photo: Courtesy of Erika Lust.

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    Adult filmmaker Erika Lust can recall exactly how she felt the first time she watched porn: She was conflicted, to say the least.

    "Part of me was like, 'Yeah, it's somewhat of a turn-on,'" she told Refinery29. "But another side of me thought, What the hell is this sexist bullshit?" Or as she put it in her 2014 Tedx Talk, "Arousal tasted sweet," but "objectification tasted bitter."

    These feelings led Lust to enter the adult film industry as a director. Her goal was to create porn that showed "all the intimacy, beauty, and joy of sex," but not at the expense of the female stars. With most mainstream porn, Lust explained, it can be hard to tell if the people in the film "truly enjoyed themselves" — particularly the women.

    Lust has directed over 10 films so far — you can see them here — and she shows no sign of slowing down as she prepares her first feature film. As her own career grows, she hopes to see more women take on behind-the-scenes roles in porn, citing Vex Ashley and female-led initiative New Level of Pornography as some of the more exciting sources of progressive adult cinema.

    Lust shared a selection of stills from her film series, XConfessions, which was inspired by the sexual fantasies of her fans. The series reflects just how much Lust values her audience's pleasure: "Sometimes, I get to do a tender story; and other times, it's super kinky, or funny, or scary — it can be anything. I'm not limited to a narrow idea of sexuality. It's that wide, beautiful universe of sensuality and pleasure — that's the point."

    If you happen to be in Berlin, you can catch a screening of XConfessions and hear Lust give a talk at the Berlin Film Society on February 10. Everyone else can click through to see the aforementioned stills and get a glimpse into the wonderful world of female-directed porn.

    This month, we're sharing steamy personal stories, exploring ways to have even better sex, and wading through the complicated dynamics that follow us into the bedroom. Here's to a very happy February. Check out more right here.


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    "Being a responsible director means being sensitive to the needs of each individual performer...I work with a wide range of people. Some are really experienced with acting in adult films; some have very little or no experience. Some are comfortable having the team there; some might wish to make the team even smaller for a scene, so they can feel more relaxed. But my main advice to the performers is: 'Forget the porn you have watched and performed in — now, it's about sex and intimacy.'"

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    "I want to show real sex. It can still be full of fantasy, but I want to show as many layers of the sexual encounter as possible, as they happen in real life. My goal is to stimulate all the senses, to arouse the viewer in as many ways as possible. Sex is as worthy of artistic framing as any other major human experience. And that's what I'm trying to do, to frame it like the beautiful act that I think it is."

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    On whether or not sex-positive women are judged differently from sex-positive men: "Yes, for sure! Women get more scrutinized than men in most departments. There's still so much slut-shaming and scrutiny over women's appearances and sexist bias. Sex-active women are still seen as dangerous citizens. I call it the Basic Instinct/Fatal Attraction effect: If you are a sexual woman, most probably you are also a murderer — or at least a psycho."

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    "I portray women as human beings, human beings with their own ideas and desires. The performers are obviously real people that I respect, so I want the characters they portray to be believable. It's not anything crazy, I just like to show women as I see them — as sexual, complex beings with their own ideas about sex. They're capable of intellect, capable of great pleasure, capable of anything. And I like to portray them as subjects of pleasure, not just objects of desire."

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    "I feel beyond positive about the future for female-led erotica. It's easy to look at mainstream porn tubes and think that everything is getting worse and increasingly violent and extreme, but there are actually many young voices who speak up and create the sort of films that they want to see, the sort of films that they think represent their sexuality best."

    "Regarding porn, I feel that the right fight is not to change it, but to educate the audience to be more demanding with porn. It's like fast food, you can't end that industry, but you may educate the consumers to be more respectful with what they eat."