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For the first time in Europe, this autumn in Berlin a Feminist Porn Film Award was dedicated to the pioneers of the sex-positive movement. The organisers say that their label "PorYes" is not a direct answer but a "necessary alternative" to the PorNo campaign, started in 1987 by Alice Schwarzer, Germany's most famous feminist. The PorNo campaign wants pornography to be prohibited by law. Meanwhile, the campaigners of PorYes say they aim to redefine porn in a politically and ethically correct way, in reaction to the mass of commercial pornography.

We wanted to find out how this would work out - porn and politics on one screen. So we talked to Laura Méritt, member of the PorYes film award jury, about her thoughts on pornography and how to produce it, and about the efforts of PorYes to create a label for so-called fair porn.

lauraKleinLaura Méritt has been active in the feminist movement since the ‘80ies, working on transgender, lesbic, bisexual, intersexual, feminist linguistic topics and last but not least on sex-positive pornography. She was born in 1960, studied politics, German language und literature, did then a doctorate about "The laughter of women" and was the first to spread sex toys for women while paying attention to a good material quality and fair production processes.

Photo: www.poryes.de

E&M: What are the differences between common and feminist porn films? Sex is sex, isn't it?

Laura Méritt: Commercial porn shows standardised breasts, penes, bodies - usually in categories according to the kind of porn. Usually, there are porn movies with small breasts and others with big ones, movies for people who fancy white or black skin, etc. The male erection is the only focus and the male orgasm the only ambition and destination of the whole story. Feminist porn wants to create emotions by showing authentic scenes in an aesthetic setting. And the female orgasm is an important part of the story, feminist porn does not show just sperm everywhere. Sex is not at all always and for everybody the same. The nuances are exactly what we want to show.

E&M: Women often say that porn movies are something for men. Are the "PorYes" movies made especially for women?

LM: Not at all. We found out that a lot of men are interested in our work, particularly as it's pornography of higher quality. Homo-, hetero- and bisexual women and men are our target group, transgender welcome.

E&M: So, do women need porn?

LM: There are a lot of women with a strong desire for it. As there are also men and women who say that they really don't need it.

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Photo: www.poryes.de
Poryes movies carry the fair porn label.

E&M: How did the idea of creating an alternative pornographic festival come into the world?

LM: For two years, we have been developing the idea of founding a feminist porn festival. We were inspired by our sisters from Toronto who are doing similar work in Canada - they started about four years ago. Now we're happy to be promoting feminist porn films in Europe, too.

E&M: Who are the organisers of the PorYes festival?

LM: Our network is called "Network of flowing joys" (Freudenflussnetzwerk): Our work concerns sexualitIES, organising parties, book projects, and movies that stem from sex-positive, fair, anti-racist and non-misogynistic attitudes. The people responsible for our network are mainly, but not only, women from Berlin and from other parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We have some contacts to France, but other European countries are scarcely or not involved. We haven't heard anything from Scandinavia, England, Eastern Europe or Italy for instance.

"The female orgasm is an important part of the story, feminist porn does not show just sperm everywhere. Sex is not at all always and for everybody the same."

E&M: What are the basic principles of your work?

LM: We aspire to a plurality of ages, identities, gender, colour, cultures and opinions. We are against any kind of discrimination, but also against commercialised exploited sex and uniform aesthetics. In our eyes, common porn films are not erotic as they use unimaginative and unattractive methods and film settings. And even today, porn film producers often exploit people who work for them and keep them at the same time trapped in a state of dependency on work which is very low paid but also demanding. Our aim is to show that it is possible to produce pornography that shows all kind of human bodies and their arousal both in an aesthetic manner and on the basis of fair working conditions for all participants.

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