THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL FEMINIST PORN CONFERENCE by TRISTAN TAORMINO
Heaven quietly came to (and inside) the University of Toronto.
A delightful gathering of sex-positive thinkers, dreamers, lovers, writers, readers, speakers, collaborators, and eroticism instigators this conference was nothing less than the birth of a new sacred space for sexual evolution, amplified by the subsequent psychological empowerment inherent in organizing on such a monumental event. The hallowed halls of King’s College on the University of Toronto campus had probably never heard the faint but unmistakable echoes of a ravished porn star rejoicing in the throes of passion, while “the politics of the production of her pleasure” was being pontificated about by a roomful of enlightened people . . . until now.
The all-day gathering started bright and early on a Saturday, as individuals from all walks of life and love entered, with willing hearts and heads ready to learn and listen to the brilliance and brutal truths held by the internationally-known collection of panellists. Once the doors opened, the wisdom and fun never ceased, all day long. The First International “FP Con” offered mind-expanding and body-tingling sessions such as “Lovely Lads and Ladies: Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Porn Magazines”, “Conspicuous Consumption: If We Sell It, They Will Come”, “Lesbo Retro: A Dyke Porn Perspective” and “If I Had a Hammer: Reclaiming Feminist Porn as a Tool of Political Activism.” These sessions were revolutionary and revealing conversation starters.
A wonderful diverse spectrum of humanity was present, and the camraderie and solidarity was genuinely palpable, even amongst the darkened U of T hallways, adorned with grandiose oil paintings of old white men posturing in professorial poses. When porn world superstars Jiz Lee or Sinnamon Love walks by, all that ancient history shit doesn’t matter. Just the radical present and the beautiful future we are all moving into together…
Other amazing sessions were designated as follows: “Watch and Learn: Sex Education Discourses in Feminist Porn”, “Labor, Politics and Power Inside and Outside the Industry”, “Feminist Porn XXX-Ed: Sexual Identity and Sexual Health in Educational & Feminist Porn”, “The Queercrip Politics of Re/Making Feminist Porn”, “Being Out Now”, “Safe: A Discussion about Mandatory Condoms & Safer Sex in Porn”, “Sexual Tensions: Contradictions and Ambivalence in Feminist Porn”, and “Teaching Porn in Academe.” At no point in time was there not astonishing, eye-opening, heart-expanding information being courageously shared or discussed and debated with the folks at FP Con. Every single session I attended was overwhelmingly engaging and balanced, allowing everyone in the room a chance to teach and a chance to speak. Question and answer sessions were handled with openness, even with the risk of divergent or offensive misunderstandings, yet never once did I hear any negative hate or judgemental ignorance articulated by anyone in attendance. It helped that there weren’t very many men there, but if that’s what it takes, so be it. When more men are ready to participate respectfully in these types of conversations, then their presence will be welcomed with open arms (and legs)! Until then, FP Con was a smashing success regardless.
In the words of the genius goddess Tristan Taormino: “I created the Feminist Porn Conference to continue the dialogue that the book, The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure, has sparked. Like the book, the conference emphasizes a hybrid approach, bringing together academics, cultural critics, performers, directors, producers, sex workers, activists, students and fans to explore the emergence of feminist porn as a genre, industry and form of activism. Most importantly, the event is designed to put these folks into conversation by coupling academics wtih performers and producers whose work informs, inspires, or intersects with their porn scholarship.”
And what is “feminist porn”, some of you may ask? Tristan defines it: “As both an established and emerging genre of pornography, feminist porn uses sexually explicit imagery to contest and complicate dominant representations of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, ability, age, body type and other identity markers. It explores concepts of desire, agency, power, beauty, and pleasure at their most confounding and difficult, including pleasure within and across inequality, in the face of injustice, and against the limits of gender hierarchy and both heteronormativity and homonormativity. It seeks to unsettle conventional definitions of sex, and expand the language of sex as an erotic activity, an expression of identity, a power exchange, a cultural commodity, and even a new politics. Ultimately, feminist porn considers sexual representation – and its production – a site for resistance, intervention, and change.”
The Feminist Porn Conference was exactly what the pamphlet said it was going to be:
“This one day conference will bring together academics, cultural critics, sex workers, activists, fans, and producers to explore the intersections between feminism and pornography as well as the emergence of feminist porn as a genre, industry, and movement. It will be a part of The Good for Her Feminist Porn Awards, one of the largest gatherings of feminist pornographers in the world. We seek to raise awareness, pose critical questions, and incite dialogue about the shifting landscape of pornography and what roles we can play in it . . .”
Goddess bless Tristan Taormino, Mireille Miller-Young and Constance Penley in particular for their immensely insightful, emotionally rousing, and forward-thinking keynote speech at lunch, highlighting many of the inspiring areas the evolution of feminist pornography has taken the world since the birth of the word “feminism” itself, as well as being candid and honest about the struggles and issues still impeding the progress of this divine dream of spiritual, social, political, intellectual and sexual freedom for all. While the audience enjoyed healthy sandwiches, fruits, vegetables and juice, wisdom flowed from the heights of these studied minds possessing sacred souls. Going strong until the elegant closing reception at the Croft Chapter House, the Feminist Porn Conference was nothing but a magnificent success, and the thought of it returning next year is indescribably wonderful to consider and hope towards!
Much thanks to the Mark S. Bonham Center for Sexual Diversity Studies, Good For Her, PuckerUp.com, The Feminist Press and the Feminist Porn Awards for sponsoring this event, and to those who could not attend this year, the book is always still available!
It’s called The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure, and its a masterpiece of intellectual erotic investigation and sexual revelation.
Thank you, Tristan. It was an honor, a pleasure, and a joy to voluteer at FP Con. See you next year, if not much sooner, angel!
Always in Love,