BERLIN – Candida Royalle, Maria Beatty, Petra Joy and Shine Louise Houston received the first European Feminist Porn Film Awards Saturday during a gala celebration at the Hackeches Hof Theater in Berlin. Founded by Laura Meritt PhD, a sexologist and owner of the sex shop and sexual communication center Sexclusivitaten, the awards recognize pornographic works that not only celebrate female pleasure, the diversity of bodies and sexual experiences, and safer sex, but also provide fair working conditions and offer a positive strategy for marketing to women. In order to be considered, the films must have been produced or directed by a woman.
“We want to revolutionize the erotic film market,” Meritt said of the awards. Therefore, the jury singled out high-quality erotic movies “with a wide range of portraying female sexual lust and in which women play an important role as producers.”
Merritt said although today it seems natural for women to work on both sides of the camera’s lens, that was not the case in the early days of commercial pornography. In the 1970s, pornography was aimed solely at men. Although the focus has shifted somewhat in the decades since, women in porn continue to struggle for acceptance as more than objects of male desire.
Feminism’s role in pornography has been both a blessing and a curse, Meritt added. In the movement’s early years, feminism and pornography were seen as contradictory. Today, however, many feminists view porn as an area of expression that is particularly rich in representation of feminist issues.
The winners of the first European Feminist Porn Film Awards, colloquially know as the Oysters, are pioneers in the field of women’s erotica on film. Royalle is known for work that takes a softer approach to porn while employing sly, subtle jabs at the objectification of women. Joy’s works have been compared to the philosophy of tantric sex proponent Annie Sprinkle. Beatty’s films, often described as “erotic film noir,” celebrate lesbian erotica through fetish and BDSM scenarios in a post-punk universe. Houston deals with queer and transsexual themes.
According to Meritt, feminist pornography is a liberating art form. A common thread among the works of all award recipients is overt rejection of dehumanization through the use of empowering, positive sexual imagery.
The awards “demonstrate that there are sensual, witty and sexy porn movies that are good to women, that can be enjoyed by women and all kinds of couples and give them the feeling of being in harmony with their sexuality,” she said. “Now that women have conquered porn, they can conquer the world.”