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Your Toronto 2014 Issue Navigator

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Feminists, Porn, and Church—Together at Last

The Oscars of the feminist porn world celebrate another year in Toronto.

2012 Good for Her Feminist Porn Awards
Berkeley Church (315 Queen Street East)
Friday April 20, 9 p.m.
$25 in advance or $30 at the door

Can you be a feminist and enjoy porn? According to female-focused sex shop Good For Her, the answer’s a clear yes (yes, oh, yes!). Channeling American sex educator and former porn actress Annie Sprinkle—”The answer to bad porn isn’t no porn…it’s to try and make better porn!”—they’ve been celebrating “better porn” since 2006.

The longest running celebration of erotica focused on women and marginalized people, the Good For Her Feminist Porn Awards marks their seventh year this Friday, at the Berkeley Church. That’s right, feminist porn in church.

Lorraine Hewitt, who works at the store and is co-director of the awards, says the event was created in order to showcase and honour those who are creating ethically-made erotic media with a feminist sensibility. This includes websites, movies, and film shorts. “We wanted to not only celebrate the kind of movies that took into account female viewers, but also to give directors a platform through which to promote their work,” Hewitt told us. “Otherwise, it can be difficult for women coming into our shop to know what they are looking for.”

It’s all about celebrating sex in an authentic, non-aggressive way. Contrary to what people may assume based on the name of the awards program, it’s also about celebrating all genders, not exclusively women. “It’s [about] men as well,” says Hewitt. “It’s also about celebrating other identities, people of colour, people of size, older people, basically those people who are typically not the intended audience.”

In order to be considered for a Feminist Porn Award, a woman had to have had a hand (ahem) in the production, writing, direction, or overall creation of the work; the work must depict genuine female pleasure (active desire and consent, real orgasm, and women taking control of their own fantasy); and it must expand the boundaries of sexual representation on film and challenge stereotypes that are often found in mainstream porn, particularly those of an ethnic or ageist nature.

“Marginalized groups tend to get misrepresented in mainstream porn,” explains Hewitt. “Black woman called GhettoBootie12, older women depicted as cougars instead of well-rounded females who just enjoy sex, and people of size portrayed as grotesque or fetishized.”

Hewitt also points out the the names of many porn movies tend to turn people off—though a quick browse of the nominees suggests that while you can take the bigotry out of the porn, it’s not so easy to shed the cheesy monikers. This year’s titles include: Babes in Bondage 4; Brunch Bunch: Queerly SF; Live Nerd Girls; Mommy Is Coming; and FUCKSTYLES (of the queer and famous).

In all, there are 40 nominees under consideration for categories that range from Sexiest Straight Film to Most Deliciously Diverse Cast. Open to the public, attendees at the awards show can expect a lot of spectacle, from the night’s performances to the guests who arrive in anything from ballgowns to leather, according to Hewitt. Hosts and performers include Elvira Kurt, an award-winning Canadian stand-up comic and Second City veteran; Ryan G. Hinds, a Toronto-based actor, singer, dancer, and writer; Coco La Creme, a burlesque performer; and Olive-Or-Oliver, an award-winning transgendered burlesque performer, drag queen, hoop dancer, performance artist, playwright, go-go dancer, model, photographer, and soon-to-be video artist. DJ Sigourney Beaver (get it?) and Ill Na Na dance trope will also be performing. Plus, of course, clips of the nominated films.

“The event is open to everyone and it exposes people to things that they may have never known existed,” says Hewitt. “So if you are looking for something different to do it is definitely worth checking out.”

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