How Erika Lust Changed My Mind on Porn

How Erika Lust Changed My Mind on Porn

Feminist porn ftw.

By Jade Witherspoon

I don’t recall the  day I learned to ride a bike, but I remember the first time I watched porn in vivid detail. Admittedly, it was only a few years ago, so that may have something to do with it. In a desperate attempt to “spice things up” with my then-boyfriend, we thought it’d be fun to try a little adult movie action. I hadn’t watched any erotic films before so I was excited to see what it was like. A few minutes in, however, my excitement faded dramatically.

Nothing I watched seemed enjoyable. I felt somewhat aroused, but not as turned on as I hoped I’d be, probably because the female character was just a f*ck puppet at the male’s disposal. She didn’t look like she was having any fun when her partner came on her face, and I don’t blame her. Does any woman really enjoy having her face covered in semen? Maybe some do, and I’m not here to judge, but it’s certainly not as many as the porn industry depicts.

Needless to say, the first time I watched porn was a bust. The experience led me to believe that all porn was just as unrealistic, so I wrote it off completely. Watching people have sex just wasn’t for me. And it wasn’t, until recently — thanks to Erika Lust.

After the aforementioned boyfriend and I broke up, I found myself searching for ways to turn myself on. My imagination and vibrator combo wasn’t cutting it anymore — I needed something more exciting. I could give porn another shot, I thought. What’s the worst that could happen? So, after downing a glass of wine and a quick Google search, I discovered all hope wasn’t lost — or rather, lust.

Erika Lust is the queen of creating erotic films that women actually enjoy masturbating to. The self-described “indie erotic film director” shoots her films from the female perspective and the movies often center around female pleasure—finally! Lust uses thoughtful storylines and plots, and the women are more than just vessels for the men to come inside. It’s sad that this is  revolutionary, but considering the dismal state of mainstream porn, it really is remarkable.

Unlike the porn I watched with my ex, Erika Lust’s films teach me sex positions I want to try in bed, because the actors make everything look enjoyable and attainable. I’ve actually paused her videos to take notes, and I’m not the only one. A lot of people turn to porn for sex education purposes. Over half of surveyed college students admitted that they use adult content as an “instruction manual” for sex, according to a British survey. This becomes problematic when they’re taught unrealistic, non-consensual, misogynistic sex practices from hardcore, mainstream porn. For that reason, feminist directors like Erika Lust are vital not just for women’s sake, but for everyone’s.

Lust Films avoids the traditional porn narratives wherein, as Lust herself describes it, “men are the main characters, and women are the fuck bunnies, horny housewives, [and] secretaries.” Instead, all of her movies are just that - actual movies - with character backstories and fully developed plots. And women are often at the forefront of these narratives.

One major takeaway I had after my first forray into Erika Lust’s archives was that there’s actually a build-up to the sex scenes. I realized a lot of what I didn’t like about adult films was that there was no foreplay. Just like I need things to build up a bit when I’m actually having sex IRL (sorry I’m not magically wet at a moment’s notice), I like for the storylines to build up to sex in the movies I watch. When you actually feel connected to the characters, when the climax does eventually come, it’s all the more believable and arousing.

The way Erika Lust directs her films is also very different from the mainstream porn industry. Lust's work is ethical - meaning everyone is paid and treated fairly (from interns to performers). She also prioritizes diverse storylines and ensures a safe sex environment during shoots (with up-to-date STI tests and wherein performers get to choose if they want to wear a condom). This unfortunately is not the case with mainstream porn. If you’re interested in learning more about unethical working conditions in the mainstream porn, “Why I Quit Porn” by Paige Jennings does a great job of getting you up to speed.  

So what are you waiting for? If you sign up for her newsletter, you can watch a free film on Netflix. We promise you won’t be disappointed!

 

Header image edited by Marcy Gooberman

tabú connects young adults with trustworthy and engaging answers to their sex ed questions by connecting them to certified health experts and peer to peer support.