What Happens to Porn When Women Step Behind the Camera?

Women in the porn industry are fighting the forces of sexism, racism and homophobia, one dirty film at a time.

Photo credits: B2M Productions; Getty Images

Photo credits: B2M Productions; Getty Images

In order to better understand the scope of sexual desire, a professor named Meredith Chivers once invited a group of men and women into her lab at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health. There, she showed them videos of men having sex with women, men having sex with men, women having sex with women, and the occasional ape having sex with another ape. Sexual arousal in men proved to be what she calls “category specific.” Straight men became aroused when watching women having sex on screen while gay men got turned on when watching guys go at it. Women, on the other hand, got excited no matter who was having sex on screen. They even liked watching the apes bump uglies. 

The takeaway is female sexuality is complicated. It doesn’t come neatly packaged; it’s not predictable and it doesn’t function as an equal and opposite answer to male sexuality. But most mainstream depictions of women and sex don’t exactly hammer that message home. Then again, most mainstream depictions of women and sex are crafted by men.

Looking to porn, we can say there are those inside the industry who don’t care to disrupt what’s been a very profitable plot formula. Big boobs and macho hunks may seem like a narrow approach to sex, but they continue to sell well. Fortunately, that hasn’t stopped some performers from stepping behind the camera to see what they can come up with instead. And a lot of those performers turned filmmakers happen to be women.

Award-winning porn actress Jessica Drake came out with her own line of educational porn back in 2011.

“I was being approached time and time again by people asking me questions about sex, relationship issues, things they saw in porn, and I was stunned by how much misinformation is out there,” she told AlterNet in an email. “It also dawned on me how many people were taking lessons from porn. Unable to really navigate what they saw onscreen as fantasy, they were puzzled as to why it wasn't working the same way for them at home.”

While Drake doesn’t abandon popular porn stunts (her first film focused on fellatio, specifically), she makes sure that not too much “movie magic” goes into her films. “I tend to portray sex in more of a realistic fashion than you may see in an adult movie, even if the finished product seems polished,” she explained. Earlier this week, Drake nabbed an XBIZ nomination for “Sexpert of the Year.”

But transitioning from performer to director in a notoriously male-dominated industry isn’t always easy, especially if you’re sporting platinum blonde hair, large breasts and a pretty face. “There were some people who thought my name was just on the box while others did the bulk of the work,” she told us “That can't be farther from the truth. I choose the topics, do the research, write them, cast them, narrate them, direct them, even cater them. It's truly a labor of love.”

Read the full AlterNet article