What’s Missing from Pornland?

Dr. Lynn Comella, in her always smart and interesting Las Vegas Weekly column – recently wrote a response to porn critic Gail Dines, author of Pornland. In it, she writes:

As scholar Shira Tarrant notes in a recent review of Pornland, Dines fails to address counterevidence that might complicate her story of porn. According to Tarrant, “Dines is silent about feminist porn. She presumes that women who watch are coerced by the men in their lives or duped by a culture that rewards women for exploiting themselves.” Dines omits any discussion of queer and gay porn, and makes broad claims about porn’s hold on men’s psyches that are difficult, if not impossible, to prove.

Had Dines actually been in Vegas and attended the women’s seminar this year, she might have learned a thing or two about the women’s market for sex toys and pornography, including the fact that female entrepreneurs have helped bring a concern with quality products, sex education, ethical porn production and alternative sexual imagery to the adult industry. Overlooking these things or, worse, pretending they don’t exist is like narrating a history of college athletics without any mention of Title IX.

More than just a niche, the women’s market has been at the forefront of adult industry trends for the past decade. Feminist porn producer Tristan Taormino, who directs her own line of films for Vivid Entertainment, the biggest porn company in the world, is a case in point. Taormino is a multiple AVN Award winner. She prioritizes safe, respectful and positive work environments, which includes collaborating with performers about whom they want to work with and what their scenes will consist of. Her films feature hot and sweaty sex, female orgasms and, yes, genuine intimacy.

I was aware of Pornland but have not read it. If it disregards competing perspectives about pornography (such as the nuanced world of porn for women) as much as I keep hearing it does, then it’s ironic – isn’t, it? – that an author who criticizes a group of men for profiting from porn is, herself, profiting from a book that appears to prey on people’s fear of, or discomfort with, porn.

Read Dr. Comella’s full column on Las Vegas Weekly’s web site and then read Violet Blue’s take on the issue as well over at Our Porn Ourselves.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.