Porn needn't be smutty: Feminist erotica director Erika Lust | lifestyle | Hindustan Times
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Porn needn't be smutty: Feminist erotica director Erika Lust

lifestyle Updated: Aug 13, 2015 17:18 IST
Avantika Mehta
Avantika Mehta
Hindustan Times
PornBan

Erica Lust has been instrumental in promoting the aims of the feminist pornography movement. She sees "seeing porn as a discourse about sexuality."

Born in Stockholm, Erika Lust is a Swedish feminist porn director, screenwriter and producer. Along with Anna Span and others, Lust has pioneered the field of feminist pornography across the world.

Lust is a graduate in political science and feminist studies. She became interested in pornography during her days as a student in University of Sweden; she also credits authors Linda Williams and Jean Jacques Annaud as her inspirations.

Lust works out of her own production house called Lust Films. The production house is known for its diverse films, ethical standards of production, and is hugely popular with women and men worldwide. Apart from leading a Ted talk on the future of the porn industry, Lust won the Feminist Porn Award for Movie of the Year in 2012 for her film Cabaret Desire.

It also won the Cinekink Audience Choice Award for Best Narrative Feature. The first two compilations of her XConfessions series have won her the Feminist Porn Awards for Hottest Straight Vignette in 2014 and 2015 respectively. She has also written several books on the subject. She lives and works in Barcelona.

In an interview, Lust talks about how traditional chauvinistic porn are part of a patriarchal structure and more.

If men watch more porn anyway, why is it so important to have female friendly alternatives?

Part of the answer is in your question - why do you think more men than women watch porn? Because most films cater to the male gaze only! Alternative erotica offers more diversity, higher production standards and exciting narratives that both genders can enjoy!

How do you feel about the treatment of women in the porn industry?

In chauvinistic porn, the sad reality is that women are often taken advantage of, abused and forgotten when they have been "used." I want to have an alternative to that! There is no reason sex in film should all be done in a smutty, shady, exploitative manner - it can be done in a safe space, artistically, humane and with respect for everyone involved.

What do you do in your films and company to counter exploitation of women in the porn industry?

My performers, men and women, have thought long about their decisions and have their individual reasons they want to work with us. Something that they all have in common is that they are all sex-positive and smart people, who understand that sex is a beautiful thing and nothing to be ashamed of!

In India, we are debating whether porn increases violence against women. Do you agree that it could?

First, I don't think chauvinistic porn is the sole cause for violence against women - because those films don't exist in a vacuum. They are based on a sexist ideology and part of a patriarchal structure. I do, however, think chauvinistic porn could have negative effects on the society.

Porn is a discourse about sex and works like an educator about sex and gender- so if a massive part of the cultural landscape, meaning traditional porn, is chauvinistic in its portrayal of women and embodies regressive ideas about women, sure those ideas are going to rub off when they are presented time and again. That's why it's important to have positive alternatives.

Any message for young girls just starting to discover porn and experiment sexually?

I think sometimes as a woman, it can feel as if your sexuality has been hijacked - maybe by society's ideas about sex, social stigma, mainstream porn, unrealistic beauty standards. To enjoy sex, you have to think about what you want, what desires and fantasies you want to entertain and what makes you happy, and also what doesn't make you happy. It's good to know that all the images we see about sex are not necessarily true.

What do you think of the Gvernment of India's recent ban on porn sites?

"I find it quite contradictory that such a country with a mainly young and mobile population and a sexpositive history going back to BC would go so backwards in time by banning pornography. I think that sexual education, and porn education, is more vital and effective than censorship.

Banning these sites won't stop people viewing X-rated content, it will only fire their desire to go to other places to find it, , or use thing like Black VPN. Possibly alternative erotica sites and material that do further the cause of ethical treatment of women in the films and industry will not be reachable from India, because they are going to be put in the same box as the chauvinistic porn.

India needs to keep fighting for their right to sexual expression and exploration. Looking at old scriptures of your ancestors exploring their sexuality freely is legal, but tryung to find a modern depiction of sex is illegal. That's irony defined.

People in India are smart and opinionated. You have already started the debate, let's discuss porn instead of banning it."

Read: Saying it explicitly: Why Indian women watch porn