Links Between “The Handmaid’s Tale” And So-Called Feminist Porn

While “The Handmaid’s Tale” warns of a feminist dystopia, “Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On” shows what happens when we allow our movement to be coopted by patriarchy.

An article published on the website Feminist Current (May 1st, 2017) titled, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ offers a terrifying warning, but the hijacking of feminism is just as dangerous” is a critique of so-called “feminist porn” that was celebrated in the recent Netflix series called “Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On.” In this op-ed piece, Gail Dines makes links between the ways women who make porn exploit women in the name of feminism, and the “aunts” in the The Handmaid’s Tale series on Hulu who do the dirty work of enforcing patriarchal control of women. From the article:

Last week, two new series were released which, at first sight, seem to tell very different stories about women.

Netflix’s Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On (HGWTO), produced by the same team as the 2015 documentary Hot Girls Wanted, was described by many media critics as taking a more nuanced approach to the porn industry than the earlier documentary, by showing how women can be empowered by both making and performing in porn.

Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, on the other hand, is a terrifying “fictional” account of a patriarchal dystopia, where women cannot hold jobs or own property, and serve as either breeders, cleaners and cooks, or trophy wives. Those who resist are exiled to toxic waste dumps or worse. Atwood has asserted many times that her book, on which the series is based, is not really fiction — she drew inspiration from accounts of how women are actually treated around the world.

So while HGWTO purports to show how we can beat men at their own game, The Handmaid’s Tale portrays how men beat women into submission. The contrast seems stark.

But in reality, both shows have a common underlying theme: that women’s true role is to be f*cked. In HGWTO women are fucked to make money; in The Handmaid’s Tale women are fucked to make babies. Both narratives convey a form of biological determinism; that women are subordinate sexual vessels whose primary purpose is to serve the needs of men. And in both shows, it is women who, in the name of sisterhood, do the dirty work of men by playing the role of taskmasters to control the lives of other women.

The first episode of HGWTO featured “feminist pornographer” Erika Lust waxing lyrical about how women need to own their own sexuality by becoming pornographers. The tale told here by Lust is that when women get behind the camera, they can make artistic “erotic” movies that speak to women’s sexual fantasies, instead of mainstream porn’s focus on men pounding away at women’s orifices. This episode was carefully crafted to tell a story of women’s liberation from patriarchal oppression via empowered porn sex.  But this narrative unraveled very quickly when we saw what Lust actually meant by “feminist porn.”

Lust’s rather bizarre idea of a compelling “erotic” movie for women was to portray a woman pianist living out her fantasy of playing the piano naked while being “pleasured.” So Lust finds Monica, a woman who is both a pianist and willing to play out this fantasy, concocted by Lust. The problem is that Monica is new to porn and lacks any experience, while Lust hires a mainstream male porn performer, resulting in the usual degrading porn sex — pounding penetration and hair pulling included. Monica finishes the scene in obvious pain and traumatized, looking like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. But remember, this is a “feminist” porn film, so Lust, acting all sisterly, gives Monica a big hug and a glass of water to make her feel better. And then asks her to fake an orgasm for the final scene. So much for authentic female sexuality!

Read entire article here.

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