• Poison Apple Productions is part of the burgeoning scene of feminist porn and erotic filmmakers in Australia. (msgalavanting.com)
A new wave of feminist porn, created from the female point of view, is empowering men and women by highlighting diverse sexualities and bodies.
By
Thomas Cunningham

14 Mar 2017 - 2:23 PM  UPDATED 20 Mar 2017 - 10:37 AM

The first time Anna Brownfield was exposed to pornography she was 16 years old. A friend had found their parents’ secret stash of VHS tapes and the two watched the films together while the adults were away.

Brownfield, now age 45, could not have known then that part of her future would lie in the making of these erotic films.

Heading the company Poison Apple Productions, she is part of the burgeoning scene of feminist porn and erotic filmmakers in Australia.

Using more than 20 years of film experience, Brownfield says she is trying to make films that are about the diverse sexuality of a female audience, created with a female point of view.

“It’s very sex positive, it’s about celebration of diversity of bodies, and it’s also about women being in control of their own sexuality,” Brownfield says of her films.

To her, the feminist porn tag is not about a genre, but rather about a movement.

The films can contain anything from the standard sex scene to BDSM. But, Brownfield tells SBS, in her view the ‘feminist porn’ label is not necessarily about what is shown on camera or the content of an erotic film, but rather the fair and equal treatment of workers and the focus on women’s’ sexuality on set.

For example, she explains, the film-makers intentionally give actors agency as to how they will be represented on camera, make sure pay is fair for all, and create films that are inclusive of all genders and sexualities.

The real problem that needs to be addressed, in society and porn, is the distinction between what is acceptable in reality and what is seen in film.

Brownfield believes feminist porn can empower women and men by providing an alternative to the machismo of mainstream films.

“There is explicitness in [what we show in our films] but at the same time, a hand going up an arm can be sensual and sexual as well,” she says.

This way of portraying erotica was a strong motivation for getting into the business, says Brownfield.

Feminist porn is also not inherently anti-mainstream porn.

Sydney-based feminist erotic films actor and producer Gala Vanting credits popular porn with creating a market where her kind of content can exist.

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She says the real problem that needs to be addressed, in society and porn, is the distinction between what is acceptable in reality and what is seen in films.

Gala also acknowledges that the movement can be a tricky thing to define, and there are as many types of films as there are types of feminism.

“What is feminist porn to me may not echo someone else’s idea of feminism,” Vanting says.

A study by major industry website Pornhub showed that Australia ranks eighth in the world for consumption of porn. But Brownfield says the industry’s popularity has not translated to profits for much of the industry as a whole.

Brownfield says this is due to the expectation by the everyday consumer that porn should be free – a mentality that has come with the influx of large search-engine sites that pirate scenes and films.

...but at the same time, a hand going up an arm can be sensual and sexual as well...

Marketing itself as ethical and offering variation on the norm has meant feminist porn has been able to carve out its own niche market online. Customers can pay to subscribe to websites or buy individual films.

A quick Google search for the words “feminist porn films” will come up with several different dedicated websites and search engines.

While this has proven useful in sustaining the industry, it has by no means meant a boom in business. Brownfield can only run her production company part-time while also working as a university tutor and corporate video producer.

She says many of her peers who started producing films burnt out after realising how much content needed to be created and uploaded regularly to turn a profit.

Despite this, Brownfield is optimistic about the future of the industry.

“As people continue to look for alternatives, I think it will only continue to grow.” 

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