This is What a Feminist L**ks Like
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This is What a Feminist L**ks Like

Opening Act: The Raging Asian Women. Photo by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.

It was dark, there were naked ladies on the screen, and we couldn’t get Avenue Q’s “The Internet is for Porn” out of our head. We were supposed to be covering Good For Her‘s Feminist Porn Awards, but everything—in our infantile mind, that is—was coming up dirty, singing pseudo-Muppets.
When we arrived at the Berkeley Church (porn awards! In a church?), we were greeted by two broad-shouldered bouncers. “We’ll have to see some ID,” they said. “ID?” we asked, pawing through a year’s worth of movie stubs and muffin crumbs at the bottom of our bag. “Yes, some identification, please.” After producing what was deemed to be satisfactory proof-of-age, we were told to “Have fu-uun in the-eere.” Not knowing whether this direction was sexy or sinister, we nevertheless thanked the bouncer (“Ha… ohhh, uh, thanks? You to-oo?”), and elbowed our way to the main foyer.
And who did we see when we arrived at the main hall? Ladies, ladies, and more ladies. Some were wearing knits and dangly earrings and smelling like patchouli, some were wearing strappy dresses and kitten heels and quaffing room-temperature chardonnay, and some were wearing close to nothing (Madison Young, we’re looking at you!) and making friends in the front row. Actually, everyone seemed to be making friends—much to the chagrin of MC Deb “Dirk” Pearce.
“Can we have a little less talking in here?” asked Pearce, when the awards were underway. “Less chatting in the back?” she said again, fifteen minutes later. But the crowd was a loose-lipped one; they weren’t just there to watch feminist porn—they were there to talk about it, too. And who could blame them? They were immersed in an environment where subjects like “sex,” “porn,” and even “feminism” weren’t taboo. And they were watching raunchy entrepreneurs receive awards for “hottest kinky film” (the award went to Madison Young’s Perversions of Lesbian Lust: Volume 1), “sexiest straight movie” (the winner was Eli Cross’s Intense Desires), and “sexiest dyke movie” (Emilie Jouvet’s One Night Stand took the prize).
So what’s the difference between a Ron Jeremy–esque “wham, bam” classic and a feminist porn flick? So glad you asked. According to Good For Her’s Alison Lee, the following criteria must be met (or exceeded): 1) a woman has to have had a hand in the “production, writing, direction, etc.” of the work; 2) the film must depict “genuine female pleasure”; and 3) the film “expands the boundaries of sexual representation on film and challenges stereotypes that are often found in mainstream porn.” Oh, and, according to Lee, the movie “has to be hot!”
Thanks, in part, to the images projected on the screen (of people doing it—and liking it! Shocking!) and to the comforting babble of the audience, we were, at long last, able to exorcize our Avenue Q demon; when the Muppets stopped singing in our head, we realized that churches are great places to talk about porn—and that talking about sex and feminism and kink and sexuality (and applauding those who provoke these conversations) is probably something we should to do more often.