Are feminism and porn compatible? There are so many debates to be had about porn, inequality and women that it could take the guts of forever to answer the question. But what we do know is that porn exists, that it’ll never go away and that plenty of women watch it outside of those who work in the adult film industry. The rhetoric that pornography is violent, dangerous and degrading to women is as relevant as the rhetoric that it can also be a form of empowerment. There are arguments on both sides. And while you may stand on one side or the other, it’s clear we need to be having more conversations about it.
Feminist porn, otherwise known as porn for women – that doesn’t exploit actors or portray women in negative and harmful ways – is in the news (and online more) and more every day. So while we know that porn is giving impressionable teenagers unrealistic views on their bodies – studies cite it as the number one reason women want to “improve the appearance” of their labia, for example – we know that women still watch it. Even Oprah Winfrey has personal porn suggestions for women.
And a new Netflix series wants to shed light on not only on women and the porn industry, but the impact technology has on our views on sex and relationships.
In Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, over six episodes, the filmmakers take a deep dive into the porn industry; they look at on a 40-year-old former reality star who ghosts 20-year-old girls on dating apps, while another looks at “cam girls” and another looks at the after-effects of a teenage girl convicted of filming a sexual assault and streaming it live on Periscope.
The series is challenging, but it isn’t intended to judge or influence or project dangerous stereotypes; it aims to inform. To broaden your knowledge of a topic that’s here to stay. The filmmakers want you to ask yourself how you feel about sex, how you feel about its progression to the digital world and how you feel watching porn as a woman. And the result is an intelligent programme; shedding light on scenarios and moments that however uncomfortable they may be, should – in as a respectful manner as possible – be shown. Because unless we create conversation, leading to action, nothing changes. Not for the women who seek empowerment nor the women who are caught up in the harrowing, dark side of the industry.
Actress and one of the series producers, Rashida Jones, summed the show up: “The whole series is a pause so that you can just look at your relationship with sex and technology and ask yourself some questions that might come up for you during the series. For women, in particular, there’s a lot of things about empowerment, and asking yourself: What makes you comfortable? What makes you feel power?”
Hot Girls Wanted, Turned On is available to stream on Netflix now.