On The Trail Of “Soft Porn”


Woman Covering ManSo I’m flipping through channels the other night and came across what I thought was a regular movie. A girl and a guy are talking about some sort of problem she’s having, and in order to “comfort” her, the guy starts giving her a massage which leads to kissing, heavy petting, clothes coming off . . . you get the picture. “Hmmm,” I say to myself, deciding not to switch the channel. “There’s some interesting business going on here.” Before I know it, the couple is naked and having sex. At least, it looks like they’re having sex, except it’s obvious they’re not. The position of the guy in relationship to her, and the movements they’re doing make it apparent that there’s some serious simulation going on but reality it’s not. Then my husband strolls into the living room and glances at the TV. “What’s on?” he asks, before his eyes flick to the screen. His interest is immediate, but then after about thirty seconds he says – and I think I detect a hint of disappointment in his voice – “oh, this is just soft porn.”

If you’re a subscriber to any of the pay TV channels, you’ve no doubt come across one of these flicks, especially if you’re inclined toward late night viewing. The actors are always very good looking, the settings are nice, and at least one scene featuring female/female sex seems to be standard fare. But who exactly is watching these movies? Are they in fact catering to women?

An article that came out two years ago in Cosmopolitan claims that 66% of women say they watch porn. It’s no wonder, therefore, that there is now a smattering of female directors making porn films for women. I’ve heard both the term “soft porn” and “art core” as ways to describe these films. In any case, female erotic filmmakers such as Petra Joy, Anna Span, and Liselle Bailey are emerging.

One might wonder whether women would even want their own porn. It’s the men who are supposed to be the visual ones, right? But in a video interview I watched with Petra Joy she says in her opinion that women enjoy erotic viewing, “as long as it’s their fantasies that are being depicted,” as opposed to those of men. And Anna Span makes the argument that women should embrace porn. She even wrote her dissertation entitled Towards a New Pornography.

In my pursuit of answering some questions on female porn I came across For the Girls, a website that describes itself as “a quality erotica site for women that combines a huge selection of sexy photos created & selected for women, with an entire online magazine.” There are lots of photos of naked guys, erotic fiction, sex advice, and “hardcore porn movies for women.” Wait, do “hardcore porn” and “for women” go together? I thought that was the whole point, that they didn’t. For The Girls describes its movie offerings thus: At For The Girls, we understand that women’s tastes are varied and moods can change. Sometimes you just want it quick, hard and nasty, something to get your heart pumping and your juices flowing. Inside you’ll find a huge range of hardcore porn – straight up fucking, hard humping and down-and-dirty hotness. Here the guys are good looking, the girls enjoy themselves and the sexual chemistry is intense.

That sounds an awful lot like a description of regular porn to me. I’m sure not getting any “soft” feelings from that. I also haven’t watched any of the movies, so who knows what’s in them. Perhaps some intrepid soul out there would like to give it a go and report back? As for me, I’ll stick with books.

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8 Comments

  • madelineiva
    December 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I watched a soft porn once and I was as aroused as if I was watching some endless MTV video. Yawn. No compelling plot, no invested emotions — just sex. I don’t care if my very best friend wrote it and Martin Scorsese himself directed it, and it stared the hottest actors I’ve ever seen–if you haven’t made me care, think, or feel (preferably all three at once) then I’m not going to get aroused. C’est la vie!

    • Elizabeth Shore
      December 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      That’s exactly how I feel. I see the film and my reaction is: Who are these people? Why do I care whether they’re having sex? The answer is that I don’t care if I don’t know them.

      • madelineiva
        December 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

        And yet…they talk about men being so visual. Hey, I’M VERY visual. I’m loving the photo you picked out–for one thing. But beyond a still photo, once you move it into live action–for some reason I just need more.

  • ellaquinnauthor
    December 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Several years ago, ok maybe more like 20 years ago, there was a whole thing called Femporn. This reminds me of that in a way, but my understanding of Femporn was that ther was an actual story.

    • madelineiva
      December 13, 2012 at 9:39 am

      It sounds like an interesting experiment, but also a contradiction in terms. Yes there are women out there who are very simple and just plain horny at heart. All they want sometimes is a good fuck-fest. I get that. It sounds like it should be easy and yet everything comes in a context, and for feminism, the context really matters. The context of pornography–even soft porn–is rife with problematic issues for a lot of feminists. But how different is a hollywood movie with actors getting all nekkid? Think I’m going to have to blog about this more over at my Madeline Iva website.

      • Elizabeth Shore
        December 13, 2012 at 11:28 am

        I think you should! It’s an interesting topic and one that could certainly use a few more voices chiming in with thoughts.

      • ellaquinnauthor
        December 16, 2012 at 9:03 am

        I agree. Number one being the exploitation of women.

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