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Feminist pornography is a genre of film developed by or for those dedicated to gender equality. It was created for the purposes of encouraging women in their pursuit of freedom through sexuality, equality, and pleasure.Many third-wave feminists are open to seeking freedom and rights of sexual equality through entering the adult entertainment workforce. However, many second-wave feminists believe that the oppression and/or sexual objectification of women is inherent in all pornography involving them. The conflict between the two waves causes many struggles between these different feminist views of pornography.
Feminists have debated pornography ever since the women's movement commenced. The debate was particularly vehement during the feminist sex wars of the 1980s, which is when feminist porn originated. It acquired momentum in the 2000s because of the Feminist Porn Awards, originated by Good For Her in Toronto in 2006. These awards spread awareness amongst a broader audience, extra media exposure, and assistance in uniting a community of filmmakers, performers, and fans.
Feminist porn has various ideas and definitions.[ citation needed ] Tristan Taormino is a sex educator, feminist pornographer, and co-editor of The Feminist Porn Book, who defines feminist pornography as dedicated to gender equality and social justice. Feminist pornography is porn that is produced in a fair manner, where performers are paid a reasonable salary and treated with care and esteem, their consent, safety, and well-being are vital, and what they bring to the production is appreciated. Feminist porn seeks to challenge ideas about desire, beauty, gratification, and power through unconventional representations, aesthetics, and film making styles. The overall aim of feminist porn is to empower the performers who produce it and the people who view it.
From the mid-1970s up until 1983, it was mostly a theoretical discussion amongst feminists (including some self-identified feminist men) whether making feminist porn was even possible. Some feminists, later known as sex-positive feminists, argued that it was, but it still had to be made, sometimes giving a rough sketch of what that should or would look like (for example, Ann Garry's plot in 1983).Others in the middle said it may be possible, but they had not seen any examples of it yet (1981). A third group, the anti-porn feminists, maintained throughout the 1980s that it was in principle impossible, because 'feminist pornography is a contradiction in terms' or 'an oxymoron', and that whatever was feminist but appeared to be pornographic should instead be labelled 'erotica' (although some of them such as Andrea Dworkin claimed that even 'erotica' was too much like pornography to be considered feminist ).
The majority of the feminist debates on pornography were initiated by events such as the 1976 presentation of the film Snuff , in which a woman was shown being mutilated for the audience's sexual satisfaction. Two of the first American feminists to suggest the development of feminist pornography were Deb Friedman and Lois Yankowski (members of the Feminist Alliance Against Rape) in a 1976 article in Quest: A Feminist Quarterly. Claiming that the oppression of and violence against women portrayed in pornography had gone too far (citing the recent controversy around Snuff), but considering that censorship may not be the proper tactic to deal with it, they wrote:
Finally, there is the possibility of developing our own "feminist pornography," that is, non-sexist erotica. We have set out some guidelines for determining what forms of explicit sex should be portrayed as alternatives to the current violence and sado-masochism. Although it may sound far-fetched, developing feminist pornography would help demonstrate what some of these alternatives could be.
The Friedman-Yankowski essay became very popular and was widely reprinted. [ citation needed ] Andrea Dworkin organized nightly vigils at locations where the film was being shown. She became the main theorist of the U.S. anti-pornography campaign. Well-known feminists, including Susan Brownmiller and Gloria Steinem, joined her to establish the campaign group Women Against Pornography. The anti-porn campaign escalated with Take Back the Night marches around locations such as Times Square, which contained ‘adult’ book stores, massage parlors (a euphemism for a brothel) and strip clubs. Dworkin and other feminists arranged conferences and lecture tours, showing slide-shows featuring hard- and soft-core porn to women's awareness groups.[ citation needed ]On the other hand, erroneously believing that its scenes of eroticized torture were real,
In the United States, production of explicitly feminist pornography began in 1984, initiated by two independently formed groups. Dissatisfied with working in mainstream male-centred porn, Candida Royalle founded her own adult film studio Femme Productions and hired performers from the porn actresses support group 'Club 90', which originated in 1983 when they started informally talking about what they wished to change about the industry. Separately, in reaction to the 1983 Dworkin-MacKinnon Ordinance, lesbian feminists founded the sex-positive lesbian sex magazine On Our Backs (in reaction to feminist magazine off our backs , which had been campaigning for banning porn in preceding years) and started producing erotic videos the next year under the leadership of Susie Bright. Others including Annie Sprinkle followed in the years thereafter, and by 1990 a small group of feminist pornographers, some of them united in the Manhattan-based Club 90, could be distinguished. Between 1984 and 1990, sex-positive feminists claimed these directors and producers had made feminist pornography a reality, increasingly referring to their works as examples of it.Anti-pornography feminists remained adamant in their opposition, claiming that these productions were either still following the patterns of 'mainstream' or 'male-dominated' porn, or were in fact erotica, a legitimate genre that was separate from pornography.
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In the 1990s and early 2000s, many feminists have become disillusioned with Dworkin and her anti-porn perspectives, perceiving them as excessively polarized and anti-sex. Feminists continue to debate the extent to which pornography is harmful to women. Some feminists have emphasized the way cybersex encourages its participants to play with identity, as users are able to take on diverse characteristics (e.g. gender, age, sexuality, race, and physical exterior). They point out a number of other benefits from new technologies, such as enhanced access to sex education and ‘safe’ sex, and opportunities for women and minorities to make contact and to manufacture and allocate their own representations.
Mireille Miller-Young has researched the porn industry for the last ten years.[ when? ] In addition, Miller-Young has also interviewed a vast amount of performers and has encountered several positive aspects of pornography in women's lives. According to Miller-Young, "For some performers, pornography is a path to college and out of poverty. For others, it is a chance to make a statement about female pleasure."
Miller-Young states that the women she interviewed were excited to enter the pornography industry and viewed it as a profitable opportunity as well as an accommodating job that would grant them independence. Women who had worked in retail or in nursing discovered that pornography gave them more control over their labor and greater respect in the workplace. Some women believed being part of the pornography industry had granted them the ability to escape poverty, provide for their families and attend college. Others stressed the inventive features of pornography and stated it grants them the ability to boost their economic mobility while also creating a strong statement about female sexual pleasure. Miller-Young claims that according to the performers she interviewed, the most difficult challenge they dealt with was social stigma, as well as gender and racial inequality.[ citation needed ]
At both large and small pornography studios, men typically marginalize the viewpoints and concerns of women. The studios place more emphasis on what men want because they feel that their products will sell more. Furthermore, these companies will often create a competitive environment which pits women against each other. Black performers often receive only half to three-quarters of what white performers are paid. Just as in other industries, women and men of color face discrimination and disparities in structural and interpersonal forms. Porn industry workers are striving to get more control over their labor and the products they create. The Internet is by far the most efficient and rapid way to democratize the porn industry. There is a range of women from diverse backgrounds who enter the pornography business, such as soccer moms, single mothers, and college students, who are filming themselves and presenting their own pornographic fantasies. The majority of women in pornography feel strongly that society should not treat porn as problematic and socially immoral. However, women in the industry highlight that conditions can be improved, particularly with regard to workers’ rights.
Royalle argues that viewing pornography is not intrinsically damaging to men or women. However, she claims that there are people who perhaps should not view porn, for example, those with poor body image or those have experienced sexual abuse. Royalle states that some individuals may develop impractical ideas about sex or what people enjoy, and how they may be expected to perform. She adds that watching porn with another individual requires permission. Counselors at times will advise it to assist people in becoming comfortable with a certain fantasy they or their partner may have. Pornography may re-energize a couple's sex life. It can offer stimulating ideas, or assist individuals and couples to get in touch with their personal fantasies. Porn can supply individuals with great satisfaction or at worst, disgust. Royalle emphasizes that this all relies on what couples or individuals decide to view. She adds that porn is not the issue when it comes to unhealthy sexual behaviors, but rather the compulsive personality of an individual.[ citation needed ]
With regard to the performers, Royalle explains that there are some women who prefer to be in porn because they enjoy sex and deem it to be a great way of making a living. On the other hand, there are some who approach porn as a mode of acting out or coping with psychological issues, such as searching for their father's love or receiving punishment for being an immoral woman. For some women, it may be a bit of each.[ citation needed ]
I’m not sure the male performers get out completely unscathed either. While they may not be judged as harshly as the women, ultimately they’re viewed as freaks who make their living with their anatomy. John Holmes’ fate is the ultimate cautionary tale. Perhaps if we weren’t still so consumed with guilt and shame about sex, neither watching nor performing in these films would carry the weight it does. But then, perhaps we wouldn’t be so interested in them, either. If the fruit were not forbidden, would anyone care to take a bite?
Tristan Taormino has stated that pornography created by women for women can give women control over what is being presented about female sexuality and how it is represented and distributed. She argues that feminist pornography allows women to have a voice in a male-dominated industry.
– Madison Young, 2014
Feminist pornography is less likely to be filmed due to a lack of audience demand since a majority of pornography viewers are male.The scope of the adult entertainment industry depends on the preferences of the majority of their viewers, which creates the need for female actresses to be young and overtly sexualized. The increase in this mainstream mass-produced media puts both actresses and producers of feminist pornography at a disadvantage. But the rise of on-screen appropriations, such as items like a strap-on dildo used by and for the pleasure of females during sexual intercourse, has allowed for more agency for women within the industry. Annie Sprinkle is one example of a woman who chooses to partake in many forms of feminist pornography in order to counter-appropriate patriarchal mainstream pornography. Films in which Sprinkle stars contain scenes of her having orgasms instead of her male on-screen partners.
Director and writer Ms. Naughty says "feminist porn seeks to take back the landscape of sexually explicit media, offering a more positive and inclusive way of depicting, and looking at, sex."According to Tristan Taormino, "Feminist porn both responds to dominant images with alternative ones and creates its own iconography."
Some pornographic actresses such as Nina Hartley, [ citation needed ]Ovidie, and Madison Young are also self-described sex-positive feminists, and state that they do not see themselves as victims of sexism. They defend their decision to perform in pornography as freely chosen, and argue that much of what they do on camera is an expression of their sexuality. It has also been pointed out that in pornography, women generally earn more than their male counterparts. Hartley is active in the sex workers' rights movement.
Feminist porn directors include Courtney Trouble, Candida Royalle, Tristan Taormino, Madison Young, Shine Louise Houston, Jincey Lumpkin, Ovidie, Erika Lust, Jacky St. James, Marit Östberg and Poppy Sanchez, Anoushka, and Lucie Blush. Some of these directors make pornography specifically for a female or genderqueer audience, while others aim for a broad appeal across genders and sexual orientations.[ citation needed ]
Doris Wishman was one of the earliest female pornography film directors. She began by producing a series of nudist films without sex scenes, including Hideout in the Sun [ citation needed ](1960), Nude on the Moon (1961) and Diary of a Nudist (1961). Years after it she also produced a series of sexploitation films.
Directed by Abiola Abrams in 2006, Afrodite Superstar is regarded as the first erotic film to be both directed by a black women and marketed at black women. Other black female directors in adult film include Shine Louise Houston, Diana Devoe, and Estelle Joseph, director of the award-winning City of Flesh series.
Swedish filmmaker Mia Engberg along with twelve different directors produced a collection of feminist pornographic short films titled Dirty Diaries which was released in September 2009. The financing, for the most part, came from the Swedish Film Institute.[ citation needed ]
In 1984, past adult performer (and Club 90 member) Candida Royalle (1950–2015) established Femme Productions to construct films from a woman's perspective. Even though Royalle did not brand or advertise her films as feminist, she identifies as a feminist, her aspirations surely can be viewed as feminist, and she is often considered to be one of the pioneers of feminist porn. She is also viewed as a founder of the genres of porn for women and couple's porn. Royalle started Femme Productions in 1984 with the aim to give adult movies a woman's voice and provide couples with video entertainment which they would be able to view together. She expressed that before 1984 the concept of couple's movies was mostly unheard of and the majority of distributors told her that women were not interested in pornographic films, which irritated her and motivated her to prove the distributors wrong. Since 2007, Royalle has produced 18 movies, and directed 13 of them.
Royalle began her pornographic career by writing and producing, while her partner, Lauren Niemi, directed. Niemi and Royalle established Femme Productions together with the support and financing of her ex-husband's family, who were producers and distributors in Europe. Royalle's ex-husband, Per Sjosted, was a producer and assistant director who contributed to the Femme project with Royalle and Niemi. Their first two movies were FemmE and Urban Heat. [ citation needed ]It was not until the production of the film Three Daughters, in 1987, that Royalle began directing. Royalle has stated that this production was one of the most expensive films she had worked on, with a $75,000 budget. Three Daughters soon became the largest seller for Royalle, and it received an award for the soundtrack, which was produced by a British musician, Gary Window, who worked with Pink Floyd and the Psychedelic Furs. Window was also the husband of the lead actress of Three Daughters, Siobhan Hunter.
I created Femme in order to put a woman’s voice to adult movies and give men something they could share with the women in their lives. You’ll find them to be less graphic, and you’ll also find story lines, good original music and real characters of all ages.
Royalle soon after produced a three-volume set, Star Director Series, and Revelations. Revelations had a more political message on the perspective of how life would not be life if we did not have the right to freely express ourselves artistically and sexually. Royalle explains that it was her way of retaliating against society's hostility towards the adult industry and the indifference of clients purchasing and renting adult movies, but not fighting for their rights to do so.[ citation needed ]
In 1995, Royalle became determined to fully return to production and signed on with Adam & Eve to fund and produce more Femme productions. My Surrender, released in 1996, won AVN's Best Actress award for Jeanna Fine. Other films that Royalle directed included The Gift, starring McCullough and Mark Davis, Bridal Shower, which featured Nina Hartley, One Size Fits All: A Sex Comedy In Five Acts, starring Nina Hartley, Missy, Shanna McCullough, Mark Davis and Tom Byron in Eyes of Desire, parts one and two.[ citation needed ]
In 2005, Royalle presented Caribbean Heat, which was shot in Panama and introduced Manuela Sabrosa. The film was produced by Italian writer/film-maker Michele Capozzi. Additionally, in 2007 Royalle produced a new sex comedy titled Under the Covers, that featured a mixture of new performers from New York and Los Angeles. Royalle also presented Afrodite Superstar, which was the beginning of a new era of a mix of talented actors and actresses from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Royalle said that this line was being labeled as Femme Chocolat. She expressed that her main aspiration with this project was to educate new young female directors. [ self-published source ]
Annie Sprinkle began working in the conventional porn business in the mid-1970s, and slowly shifted to directing her own pictures, such as Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle. In the 1990s, Sprinkle became involved in creating films, performances, and publications that were openly feminist. The majority of Annie Sprinkle's works are self-help style videos, such as Annie Sprinkle's Amazing World of Orgasm (2004) and The Sluts and Goddesses Video Workshop (1992), in which Sprinkle is portrayed as a skilled “sexpert”, encouraging the audience to experiment with elements of their own pleasures and fantasies. In the 1990s Annie Sprinkle switched from conventional porn to a feminist performance practice that combined live shows, writings on sexuality and instructional videos. Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle, the first film that Sprinkle both starred in and directed, incorporated an autobiographical emphasis: she displays to the viewer photographs of her youth at the beginning of the film. Unlike Sprinkle's later productions, Deep Inside was marketed to conventional porn viewers, and sold well, becoming the second leading grossing porn film of 1981. [ citation needed ]Sprinkle became well known in the queer art movement for being the first to promote the term "postporn", and because she co-signed the Post-Porn Manifesto in 1989. Postporn became a niche term in the 80s and 90s, and continues to be an influential praxis in the transfeminist and queer movements, specifically in the fields of contemporary video and performance art.
An important person involved in feminist pornography is Dylan Ryan is a contemporary feminist porn star who feels her work comes from an empowering perspective while bringing what she believes is missing from mainstream porn. Ryan brings up the importance involved in porn. She says that some ideologies around female porn stars. like them being sexually abused or not having a good sense of self, is true, but on the other hand that’s not what every performer comes from. Dylan is an activist for sex workers, in an interview, she states “men can say “I’ve fucked this many women” and they awesome… while a woman who has been with many men… she’s a slut. It’s deeply ingrained was that influences and informs how we look at sex workers” Dylan Ryan got into porn because she felt the porn she saw felt empty and she thought she could change the movies for the better. In order to explain this topic to others, they need to know this topic doesn’t have an answer and there are many different opinions. Feminist pornography has come a long way since the ‘50s, an 70’s when it was legalized. Sex is empowering in today’s day and era. Sex is more socially acceptable today than it was three years ago. Pornography has come a long way as well. There are still issues within pornography, but people like Dylan Ryan and Tristan Taormina, they’re helping the feminist movement. The issue around pornography for some is that is it “made for” the man while degrading and being violent against women. For others, they see it as women working, self-expressing, and empowering. Feminist pornography is defined as a genre of film developed by or for those dedicated to gender equality. It was created to encourage women in their pursuit of freedom through sexuality, equality, and pleasure.
Since 2006,the Feminist Porn Awards have been held annually in Toronto, sponsored by a local feminist sex toy business, Good for Her. The awards are given in a number of categories and have three guiding criteria:
In Europe since 2009, the best films are nominated with the PorYes-Award every other year.[ citation needed ]
Feminist artist Jasmin Hagendorfer and her team are organizing the Porn Film Festival Vienna, an event dedicated to feminist and queer approaches to pornography.
Erotica is any literary or artistic work that deals substantively with subject matter that is erotically stimulating or sexually arousing but is not generally considered to be pornographic. Erotic art may use any artistic form to depict erotic content, including painting, sculpture, drama, film or music. Erotic literature and erotic photography have become genres in their own right.
Annie M. Sprinkle is an American certified sexologist, sex educator, former sex worker, feminist stripper, pornographic actress, cable television host, porn magazine editor, writer, sex film producer, and sex-positive feminist. She received a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in 1986 and, in 1992, she earned a doctorate (Ph.D.) in Human Sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. Currently, Sprinkle works as a performance artist, visual artist, filmmaker, author, and sex educator. Sprinkle, who describes herself as ecosexual married her long-time partner, Beth Stephens, in Canada on January 14, 2007.
A facial is a sexual activity in which a man ejaculates semen onto the face of one or more sexual partners. A facial is a form of non-penetrative sex, though it is generally performed after some other means of sexual stimulation, such as vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex or masturbation. Facials are currently regularly portrayed in pornographic films and videos, often as a way to close a scene.
Sex-positive feminism is a movement that began in the early 1980s centering on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women's freedom. Some feminists became involved in the sex-positive feminist movement in response to efforts by anti-pornography feminists to put pornography at the center of a feminist explanation of women's oppression.
Candida Royalle was an American producer and director of couples-oriented pornography, a sex educator, sex-positive feminist, and pornographic actress. She was a member of the XRCO and the AVN Halls of Fame.
Tristan Taormino is an American feminist author, columnist, sex educator, activist, editor, speaker, radio host, and pornographic film director.
The Naked Feminist is a 2004 documentary film about sex-positive feminist women working in the American pornography industry. It is the debut work of Australian film maker Louisa Achille and features interviews with Marilyn Chambers, Christi Lake, Ginger Lynn Allen, Chloe Nicole, Sharon Mitchell, Nina Hartley, Veronica Hart, Kylie Ireland, Annie Sprinkle and Candida Royalle. Some of these women were members of Club 90, an early support group of female porn performers, and all of them found their work in porn empowering.
The feminist sex wars, also known as the lesbian sex wars, or simply the sex wars or porn wars, are terms used to refer to collective debates amongst feminists regarding a number of issues broadly relating to sexuality and sexual activity. Differences of opinion on matters of sexuality deeply polarized the feminist movement, particularly leading feminist thinkers, in the late 1970s and early 1980s and continue to influence debate amongst feminists to this day.
Pornography is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography may be presented in a variety of media, including magazines, animation, writing, film, video, and video games. The term does not include live exhibitions like sex shows and striptease. The primary subjects of present-day pornographic depictions are pornographic models, who pose for still photographs, and pornographic actors who engage in filmed sex acts.
Women's erotica is any erotic material that caters specifically to women target-demographic of various sexual preferences. When erotica is specifically directed at lesbians, it is referred to as lesbian erotica. Women's erotica is available from a variety of media including video games, websites, books, comics, short stories, films, photography, magazines, audio, anime and manga. The content may cover many aspects of sexuality, from relationships to fetishes; the main idea being to convey sex-positivism from a woman's perspective, or to feature female empowerment and sexual fantasies.
Afrodite Superstar is an American independent art film shot in New York City in 2006. The film has also been referred to as erotica. The director also refers to the film as an experimental film as the characters break the fourth wall, and there is a blend of satire. Afrodite Superstar was directed by Venus Hottentot. Executive producer Candida Royalle is also credited with directing the sexual scenes. Afrodite Superstar has been endorsed by American Association of Sexual Educators, Counselors and Therapists and premiered in 2007 at the New School for Social Research with a discussion about women of color and sexual images. The film subsequently screened as part of an art exhibit called Hos, Putas and Dragon Ladies: Our Sexuality Remixed at the chashama Gallery in Manhattan. Afrodite Superstar was nominated for 7 AVN Awards in 2007 including "Best Director", "Best Screenplay" and "Best Musical Score." The film was referred to as "erotic" and "cerebral" in Essence, and was mentioned in The Village Voice′s 2007 Sexy Gift Guide by sexpert Tristan Taormino.
Petra Joy is an award-winning German feminist film director, film producer, TV producer, distributor, author, and photographer. She lives in Brighton, England. Along with Candida Royalle, Annie Sprinkle, Maria Beatty, and others, she is one of the pioneers of the movement to make pornography for women. Her genre is described as "art-core," meaning the focus is on sexuality from the female perspective, female pleasure, and creative, sensual play. Common themes in her erotic films include safe sex, men seen as sexual objects, female fantasies, and male bisexuality.
Madison Young, born Tina Butcher(born September 20, 1980), is an American pornographic actress, director, bondage model, published writer, sexual educator and founder of Femina Potens Art Gallery, a nonprofit art gallery and performance space in San Francisco that serves the LGBTQ and Kink communities.
Celine Parreñas Shimizu is an award-winning filmmaker and film scholar. She is well known for her work on race, sexuality and representations and is currently a Professor of Cinema.
Feminist views on pornography range from condemnation of all of it as a form of violence against women, to an embracing of some forms as a medium of feminist expression. This debate reflects larger concerns surrounding feminist views on sexuality, and is closely related to those on prostitution, on BDSM, and other issues. Pornography has been one of the most divisive issues in feminism, particularly in anglophone (English-speaking) countries. This deep division was exemplified in the feminist sex wars of the 1980s, which pitted anti-pornography activists against sex-positive ones.
The Feminist Porn Awards (FPAs) is an annual adult film awards ceremony that began in 2006, and was initially organized by the Good for Her adult store in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Until 2014, the ceremony was officially known as the Good for Her Feminist Porn Awards.
Queer pornography depicts performers with various gender identities and sexual orientations interacting and exploring genres of desire and pleasure in unique ways. These conveyed interactions distinctively seek to challenge the conventional modes of portraying and experiencing sexually explicit content. Scholar Ingrid Ryberg additionally includes two main objectives of queer pornography in her definition as "interrogating and troubling gender and sexual categories and aiming at sexual arousal."
Women's pornography, sometimes referred to as sex-positive pornography, is pornography often produced by women and aimed specifically at the female market – rejecting the view that pornography is only for men.
Shine Louise Houston is a filmmaker and the founding director and producer of Pink and White Productions, an independent production company creating queer pornography in San Francisco. Houston makes feature-length pornographic films in addition to producing, directing, and shooting hundreds of installments for her queer porn membership site CrashPadSeries.com. Houston distributes her own work and that of other indie adult filmmakers through PinkLabel.tv, catering to different sexual communities.
Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls is a 1978 American pornographic comedy film directed by Bob Chinn and starring Desireé Cousteau, John C. Holmes, and Candida Royalle.
But feminist pornography is a contradiction in terms – specifically the terms in which feminist activist author Andrea Dworkin and attorney Catharine MacKinnon have legally redefined pornography.
The conclusion of this argument is that feminist pornography could not exist in bourgeois society. It is a contradiction in terms. That some pornography appeals to some women is indisputable. However, I would argue that these are the women who have most accepted the dominant (male) sexual ideology with its positioning of 'women' as object and, in turn, as fetish.
Feminist pornography really is an oxymoron if you go with even broad definitions of feminism as it relates to pornography.