Contrary to popular belief, pornography viewers have breasts, hips, and vaginas; not every porn connoisseur has a penis. Talking to most women, there seems to be a consensus that the pornography industry is lacking in diversity: the type of porn being distributed primarily caters to men and the production team behind it is predominantly composed of one gender, men, again. But the truth is that women also receive pleasure from visual stimulation. Not to be confused with objectification, the admiration and appreciation of our naked bodies does incite arousal. The consideration of our diverse and multifaceted desires is a turn on. And frankly, the answer to the porn industry’s woes is not to stop making pornography, but rather make better films, empower women directors, and use our purchasing power to support adult films that take our cravings into consideration.

The recipe for a good adult film is relative to the person sitting in the viewer’s chair. But there are a few requirements that tend to be universal: good production values, decent acting, strong performances, and no cheesy music. There’s nothing worse than a porno flick that looks like it was shot on someone’s webcam with horrible lighting and limited camera focus. Unless you’re into amateur pornography, it’s an automatic turn off and tends to foreshadow what’s to come: no stimulation. In addition, bad production values coupled with dreadful acting and low-energy performances equal an automatic fail. There are too many adult flicks on the market that feature a macho male character using horrible lines and ridiculous moves to “put it on” his female companion while clearly not being concerned about her pleasure. Add a bit of cheesy techno music and it’s an official disaster.

But there’s hope as women porn directors, such as Candida Royalle, Erika Lust, Shine Louise Houston, and Estelle Joseph, redefine the saying “for us by us” in the pornography industry. Obviously, not every woman has the same desires and thus, each of these leaders cater to multiple women’s demographics through the production of same-sex, transgender, interracial, heterosexual, and kink-focused flicks. And they’re not alone. Organizations, such as the Good for Her Feminist Porn Awards, celebrate these directors for honoring women’s desires in adult film and echo the need for empowering filmmakers battling the porn status quo.

However, despite the good intentions of the above filmmakers and organization, the myth that women don’t enjoy porn is continuously reinforced by the fact that not enough women use their purchasing power to say what they do and don’t like. The illegal downloading of pornography doesn’t support women directors or any other creative professional that works to provide a platform for women’s desires in adult film. Perhaps, there’s still a stigma attached to purchasing pornography despite the fact that the charge rarely appears on credit card statements under a company name that indicates adult entertainment. But even if paying for porn is a deal breaker, there are plenty of sites that have secured licensing deals to distribute adult films for free. If there’s ever a time to use “ethical” and “porn” in the same sentence, it’s to encourage viewers to consume adult entertainment in a legal manner.

As pornography grows to accommodate more women’s desires and the market increases, there needs to be a declaration, once and for all, that women should have the freedom to enjoy porn without slut-shaming or negative backlash. Men are not the only visual creatures. And women deserve to be served.

What kind of pornography do you find most pleasurable? Are you fed up with the industry primarily focusing on male desire? Weigh in. 

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