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Why We Should Be Watching More Feminist Porn

Explicit erotic film director, Jennifer Lyon Bell, on her new film, Silver Shoes, and why women will love getting off on it. NSFW.

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1. A lot of women want to watch explicit erotic material, but are put off by the word "porn".

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"I’m happy if people want to call what I do feminist porn, but I like to call what I do 'explicit erotic film'. Even though women like it, it's not because it's softcore or gentle – it is extremely erotic. The only reason I sometimes hesitate to use the word porn is that a lot of women haven't had a chance to find a porn that worked for them, so they have a negative association with the word. There is porn out there now that would appeal to a lot of women, so as a result I want women to feel open to trying something new and looking at this new sexuality on film, and so by calling it by a different term, that helps."

2. Women's porn should be as diverse as women themselves, and it should definitely be explicit.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"People think that women don’t want to see explicit material and that couldn’t be less true. I think plenty of women, myself included, love seeing hot, explicit sex. A popular misconception with porn is that all women want the same thing. Women are really diverse and what appeals to me might not appeal to you, and I think that's great. Women's porn should be really diverse because women are really diverse."

3. Seeing people who are genuinely having fun with sex is seriously hot.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"I don’t try to make my films appeal to all women – I just try to make films that I like, and I hope that there are women who agree with what I like and want more of the same. What I've found, to my surprise, is that a lot of men like them too. I get a lot of comments about how the men in my movies are more participatory, so they're not just an object themselves, but there's give and take between the two people having sex. The men seem more like they're having more fun, and not fun in a real codified and specific way, but fun that has life and freedom in it. Fun that can breathe a little."

4. We've learned not to expect emotional engagement from porn, but that doesn't mean we don't want it.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"I think that many men have been trained to expect that porn will only cover the basics for them. I think the porn industry as it's developed has discouraged engagement for men. A lot of women have more experience with movies and television than porn, so sometimes have higher expectations for what a porn film could be. They compare it to other mainstream media and expect to be engaged. What I really notice talking to men and women though is that there are more similarities than differences."

5. The less commercially driven alternative porn industry allows filmmakers to be more creative with sexuality.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"I think the porn industry as it exists now has become frozen. There are things that will never get portrayed, because producers believe that it won’t sell. Sexuality – women's, men's, and everybody' s sexuality – is really diverse in a way that we are only just now starting to explore further with alternative pornography. Alternative porn and explicit erotic filmmakers are more, at least in part, influenced by their creative interests and their political interests, as much, if not more, than their economic interests. I hope that our community of filmmakers will be able to make a sustainable income from this way of life, but the financial pressure is less of an issue for many of us."

6. Even if you usually watch straight porn, blurring of gender boundaries can be exciting too.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"Blurring between masculinity and femininity, both in and out of the bedroom, is super-hot. Silver Shoes plays with the masculinity and femininity of both the male and female characters, so it has a queerish element. It does have a man and a woman having sex, so I think it's also a film that men and women who like straight porn will like."

7. Watching sex can be a even more of a turn on if you deepen the emotional engagement with characters through narrative.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"Personally I love porn that has story because I love to feel emotionally engaged with the characters. Not in a romantic way, but I like the sympathy and empathy I feel for a character when I can understand the context of what's going on, so I love to look at any porn that's telling a good story. If there's a documentary context or a fictional context, I find that a turn on. There are plenty of people who just want really hot sex without the story, and that's great too."

8. Sex can seem even more intimate if presented like a dialogue.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"Providing an emotional context for the sex to take place is important to me, so it makes sense to use the cinematic techniques you would for dialogue to try and capture sex. Sex is a dialogue – one person does something and it creates a reaction in another person that might be a physical or an emotional reaction, or both, and then that impacts the person back again. So it's a cycle and I think that by incorporating the cinematic technique of shot-reverse-shot, both for faces and for bodies, helps me to try to bring to life that part of sex. That's the part of sex that I find most exciting – this cycle between two people of seeing what the other person is going through and responding to it."

9. Hot sex doesn't always have to be naked sex.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"I love clothed sex – I’ve often fantasised about making a porn film where nobody takes their clothes off. I think mystery is an exciting part of eroticism. It's about touch, but it’s also about evoking the sense between what you want and what you can’t have. So being partially clothed, or being clothed in a way that you don’t expect, is another erotic thing to play with with sexuality."

10. We need to think outside of rules about "good" and "bad" sex.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"In our society we tend to think of women as virgins or whores but I think all sexuality is much more complicated than that. This dichotomy says there's a good sexuality and a bad sexuality. Good sexuality is monogamous, quiet, vanilla, not power- or fetish-orientated in any way. Bad sex is fetish sex, sex outside of a relationship, bisexual or queer sex, or where your sexual partner is not necessarily your opposite sex partner. I think that's so limiting and silly. Fun sex is sex where you get to really express yourself and you can't be limited by sticking to these good sex rules."

11. Diversity is essential. The best performers are simply comfortable with their bodies and sexualities.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"I will audition anybody who feels that they are happy with their body and their sexuality. I have been really moved by the filmmakers who are showing gender diversity or body diversity in their own work because it helps us all feel less alone. I wish I had more racial and body diversity in my work – what I have now reflects the kind of people who have come to me for auditions. As I broaden my work I hope to reach out myself more actively to bring in more potential performers who are really happy with their bodies and their sexuality but might not have thought that I'd give them a chance, which of course I would."

12. Things like rimming rarely get portrayed, but plenty of people love doing it.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"I think rimming is a great example of something that a lot of people do and yet it is very rarely portrayed. I would like to make a film that’s about anal play. In general in porn, there’s either no anal play or there’s penetrative anal sex, but in my experience a lot of people are doing something in between. I like to show small, important things that I think people feel a little bit ashamed about and have no idea how common they actually are. It’s great and it’s giving people sexual pleasure and there’s nothing wrong with it."

13. Women openly exploring and enjoying porn is a serious feminist act.

Jennifer Lyon Bell / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"An essential tool for women’s liberation is sexual liberation – that’s the slogan of sex-positive feminism. On an individual level, putting yourself in touch with your own sexuality is incredibly important. It is a stealth, radical act to go and get some porn films for yourself and watch them and pay attention to your reactions and try and find something that turns you on, and be honest with yourself about that. I think that while a huge part of my sex-positive feminism is in creating films that will turn women on, I think any woman can participate in sex-positive feminism by trying to find something that honestly and truly works for her."

14. Talking freely about what gets you off is key to sex-positive feminism.

Silver Shoes / Via Blue Artichoke Films

"The best thing for sex-positive feminism is inspiring dialogue around sexuality, and the freedom and comfort to talk about what you really like. Things become frozen if that dialogue doesn't stir things up, and I think creating more discussion and debate around sexuality is a really good thing. With my films I'm trying to provide a positive environment for people to feel comfortable talking about sexuality and not feel threatened and like people will judge them. New representations and new discussions are just really welcome for creating better popular culture."

Watch the trailer for Silver Shoes here.

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Jennifer Lyon Bell's Silver Shoes is available to stream or on DVD now.