[NSFW] Inside Sweden's Feminist Porn Wave

This article contains adult content.

VÅT.jpgThe juicy erotica in Ninja Thyberg’s Våt steers away from pornographic images found in the mainstream. Image courtesy of Ninja Thyberg

Great brunettes, doctor’s check-ups, and not so innocent nannies are recurring sexual scenarios that dominate a multi-billion dollar industry so often associated with objectifying women: pornography. Women, here, are generally cast as passive participants, put on screens in different positions at best considered "fuckable."

At least, that’s what mainstream consumption of pornography is like. In Sweden, an all female porn collective—New Level of Pornography—thinks there’s more to sexually arousing filmmaking than cute teens and coeds.

“To us it is important to change the term ‘porn’ from the inside,” says Zara Kjellner, the woman behind New Level of Pornography and its corresponding website, where feminist adult entertainment can be seen for free. “We wanted to contribute to the industry with our own ideas of what porn can be.”

bildjaana+marcel.jpgIt’s all about the woman’s sexual pleasure in this scene from feminist porno FEMALE FANTASY. Image credit: Sara Thisner Lindstedt

Porn’s definition can be as subjective as its wide-ranging categories, from hardcore bondage, to softer fondling, alongside sections dedicated to interracial, elderly, and queer preferences, to name a few. While that sounds like plenty to choose from, storylines still typically follow the same male-dominates-female checklist, including the exploitation of the human body, which can occur in gay porn equally.

People like Kjellner believe that there are alternative ways to express sexual experience, like feminist porn, that focus on the female point of view instead of solely male gratification. In line with the launch of New Level of Pornography, Kjellner released FEMALE FANTASY, her first porn work produced with Alicia Hansen.

“It’s feministic because the perspective lies with the female,” she tells The Creators Project. “The fantasy is hers and we capture her enjoyment. The female is the active subject.”

Other feminist porn films like Space Labia and Skin all are also available on the site, but narratives of sexual equality like these are few and far between when compared to online video services like Pornhub, a web domain that saw over two million visits per hour last year. While feminist porn tries to counter this mass communication of disproportionate imagery by offering diversity in, not just gender, but also appearance, problems still remain.

“It’s much easier for our minds to objectify a woman than objectify a man,” says film director Ninja Thyberg, who finds it difficult to avoid reproducing the male gaze within her work. “I always work from a female perspective,” she tells The Creators Project. “But that’s still problematic because I also use young and beautiful female protagonists.”

Pleasure 1.jpgNinja Thyberg’s Pleasure tells the story of a female pornstar from her point of view. Image courtesy of Ninja Thyberg

study conducted in 2005 showed that when compared to men, female porn directors still demonstrated aggression towards women through their films, an argument being that, “as long as everybody is in control of what they’re doing” it can still be considered feminist.

“There are no rules to what feminist porn should be,” says Thyberg. “But it focuses more on female pleasure.”

Yet in Britain, female ejaculation is banned from online screens under the 2014 Audiovisual Media Services Regulations, legislation aimed at protecting children by censoring pornography made in the UK. The new rules have been deemed ‘sexist’ by many, while strangulation and aggressive whipping, consensual preferences for some, were also put forward as unacceptable for their ‘life endangering’ threats.

bildbröst.jpgAnother sensual scene from FEMALE FANTASY, shown for the first time at a feminist porn film fest in Stockholm. Image credit: Sara Thisner Lindstedt

Thyberg thinks that creating new sexual discourses, not necessarily laws, is the way to obstruct unfair gender roles.

“I think we need more images of men as sexual objects,” explains Thyberg. “I think it’s very important to portray men as vulnerable, beautiful and fragile as well, so that the viewer can be the active and dominate part of that object.”

Kjellner agrees.

“We hope that this movement with female artists making their own visuals concerning female sexuality will grow,” she says. “It takes many to really make a difference.”

To see alternatives to mainstream pornography visit New Level of Pornography here.

Ninja Thyberg is an award-winning director whose work can be viewed here

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