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WHAT IS FEMINIST PORN?

I was invited to make a short film with a mobile phone camera for Stockholms Filmfestival.
 I made Come Together, where a number of women film their own faces while masturbating. The film was published on the festivals web site and led to some strong reactions. People were provoked and there were comments such as: “Hell, they look ugly. They could’ve at least put on some makeup.”

I found the comments interesting. They pointed towards the fact that we were still stuck in the old notion that a woman’s sexuality should above all please the eye of the spectator – not herself.

I thought that those who reacted negatively to the masturbation scenes in Come Together probably needed to see more films about the true nature of female sexuality, as a counterweight to the mainstream porn (and media in general) that reflected a heteronormative male gaze on women. So I asked a number of artists, filmmakers and activists to make their own feminist porn film with the mobile phone camera that I got from Stockholm Filmfestival. The Dirty Diaries project was born.

The rules were simple: the actors must be over 18 and take part voluntarily and the film should be less than 15 minutes long. Other than that, each filmmaker was free to do whatever she wanted.

Through the history of art the image of the woman has been created by men to please the male gaze and female sexuality has been limited to a number of identities suiting the patriarchal system; the whore, the wife, the mother, the muse. Now, as we create our own explicit images we face many questions. Is there such a thing as a female gaze and if so, what does it see? How do we liberate our own sexual fantasies from the commercial images that we see every day, burying their way into our subconscious?

In many ways we had to re-invent ourselves in order to create a new genre, to be able to see the world with new eyes.

All the filmmakers in the project had their own interpretation of the concept of feminist porn and chose different ways of expressing it. It makes me proud to see the range of inventiveness and the diversity among the films.

The first edition of Dirty Diaries was produced 2009 and the collection gained a lot of attention worldwide. It was a pioneer project in its time and many things has happened in the feminist queer porn scene since then. There are now a wide range of gazes and expressions available on film and the view on female sexuality is slowly changing. Still there is a long way to go before we reach a world without stereotyped gender roles and homophobia and we hope that our project can inspire others to challenge patriarchy on film and in visual art.

So what is feminist porn? There is not one simple answer to that question, but Dirty Diaries presents 15 amazing shorts that challenges our gaze upon ourselves and our notion of pornography.

Mia Engberg – producer, curator