2014 Feminist Porn Conference Reports Spike in Attendance
TORONTO — The 2014 Feminist Porn Conference was presented by The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto April 5 and 6. It was the culminating event in a week of diverse happenings that included a special film screening of the past year’s best films, a storytelling event, a fisting workshop, a new film festival, and the ninth annual Feminist Porn Awards.
More than 300 people attended the second annual conference which brings together academics and industry workers to explore various facets of the feminist porn movement. According to a pre-conference survey, it was a diverse group, organizers said.
Twenty percent of attendees identified as porn filmmakers, including directors, producers, and/or performers and 13 percent of attendees identified themselves as fans. Academics comprised nearly half of all attendees; 15 percent were professors, and 33 percent were undergraduate and graduate students. Ten percent were members of the media, and the remaining 9 percent of attendees checked the “other” box, identifying themselves as sex workers, sex educators, sexologists, web developers, artists, and activists.
The conference program included 56 speakers from the United States, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, France, and the U.K. Speakers included Shine Louise Houston, Tristan Taormino, Jiz Lee, Madison Young, Dylan Ryan, Danny Wylde, April Flores, Jessica Drake, Tina Horn, Maggie Mayhem, Loree Erickson, Carlyle Jansen, Constance Penley, Kevin Heffernan, Mindy Chateauvert, and Zahra Stardust, who was named Heartthrob of the Year at the 2014 Feminist Porn Awards.
Over two days, there were 28 different presentations on a variety of topics from sexual expression and labor by women of color, the role authenticity in feminist porn, and evaluating ethical production practices to discussions about sex worker histories, self-care strategies, and privacy concerns.
Professor Nicholas Matte talked about the upcoming exhibit “Archiving Sex” at The Sexual Representation Collection at the University of Toronto, and York University’s Bobby Noble and Lisa Sloniowski discussed their work at the Feminist Porn Archive and Research Project.
One of the most well-attended sessions was a panel called “Feminist Pornography: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and Why It Matters” with UNLV Professor Lynn Comella, producer/performer Courtney Trouble, Australian filmmaker Ms. Naughty, and Tanesha H.D., a Toronto-based sexuality researcher and self-described “sex-positive porn fan girl.”
There was also a business track featuring workshops on production skills, affiliate programs, marketing and branding and a new series called “Theory/Practice,” which included unique conversations between scholars and feminist pornographers about how sex, work, and scholarship intersect. Films by Shine Louise Houston, Carey Gray, Ovidie, Jennifer Lyon Bell, Ms. Naughty, Zahra Stardust, and more were screened and followed by director Q&As.
Lisa Duggan, professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, delivered the opening keynote on April 5; Duggan’s keynote surveyed more than 30 years of feminist porn advocacy, pointing out the movement's progress and accomplishments.
Duggan, the co-author of the seminal collection Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture, noted that, "The feminist porn movement today is a progressive beacon in a sometimes bleak political landscape. Feminist porn producers set an example for the wider culture industry by pushing for expansive diversity in representations of bodies and sex, and by demanding an ethical workplace and production process. Radicals everywhere have a lot to learn from the feminist pornography movement."
The conference closed with what organizers called a "powerful, emotional" keynote by filmmaker/performer/artist Courtney Trouble, who urged the audience to embrace an inclusive, intersectional approach to feminist porn; the audience gave Trouble a thundering, three-minute long standing ovation.
Trouble, who won two 2014 Feminist Porn Awards for their films "Lesbian Curves 2: Hard Femme" and "Trans Grrrls: Revolution Porn Style Now," said, “The Feminist Porn Conference is a place where the underground politics of social justice and queer theory intersect with women's and gender studies, academia, business, and media outlets.
"It's a jumping point for all of those worlds collaborating and sharing skills and ideas. It's an important place not just for people interested in porn or erotic media, but for anyone who has ever wondered how media and art can effect our sexuality, or self-esteem, or our relationships.” Both keynotes were recorded and will be made available online soon.
“Attendance at the Feminist Porn Conference increased 25 percent this year, which is incredible for an event that is still so new," said Tristan Taormino, founder and producer of the conference. "The amount of interest in the subject matter and the exceptional scholarly and community-based work that’s being created around feminist porn is inspirational. I look forward to planning next year’s conference."
After the closing keynote, conference goers celebrated and networked at an after-party sponsored by Sliquid Natural Intimate Lubricants.
The Feminist Porn Conference was made possible by the sponsorship of The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, Good Vibrations, GoodVibrationsVOD.com, Sliquid Natural Intimate Lubricants, Aslan Leather, Studio Ten Toronto, Bright Desire, The Feminist Porn Archive and Research Project at York University, The Feminist Press, Good for Her, The 2014 Feminist Porn Awards, and Sex Out Loud. Organizers said the conference was part of "the largest annual gathering of feminist pornographers in the world."
Photo of Arabelle Raphael, Tina Horn and Andre Shakti by KD Diamond.