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Thursday, February 17, 2011

'Pornography is only for the voyeurs' True or false

16 going on Sex-teen

Sex Education

Exclusive Survey: Sex and the city

The average male thinks about sex every seven seconds or something. No such luck with women (insert joke about there being no such thing as an average woman); the sorority is clearly split down the middle on the subject of carnal indulgences like porn. Anna Arrowsmith is one of those who not only advocate pleasure, she nearly makes it sound politically correct. As Britain's first female porn director, she had a career as managing director of adult entertainment firm Easy on the Eye to go back to after an attempt at prospective candidacy (Liberal Democrats) in the UK elections early this year. Anna Arrowsmith aka Anna Span, who has been in the business of shooting porn films for 12 years now, speaks to Indira Parthasarathy on why there is more sex in mainstream culture than we'd like to acknowledge, and why politics and pornography are not entirely different, er, ball games.

Why is porn unsettling and cringe-inducing for many?
Justify Full
Several reasons: it's always existed outside the society, it's always been questioning our moral values. There is something fundamental about sex that as soon as you try to become politically correct, something becomes 'unsexy.' That doesn't mean you can't have loving sex in a porn film, or even have fun' People find it unsettling because we like to live in a society where we think, ever since Descartes, that the brain and the moral self are more important. But actually we live in a world which is equally about the body. And people don't like to be reminded about exceptions like porn. I think our sex drives are very important. And I'm very pleased to know historically porn has been fighting for this recognition.

'Pornography is only for the voyeurs' True or false?

I don'tPorn think porn is for voyeurs. Voyeurs is a very special term that requires somebody getting pleasure out of someone else' lack of consent. If you watched people having sex, say at a sex club, that's not voyeurism because those people are aware that you are looking at them. Voyeurists get attracted to the fact that they are secret.

Pornography is not that. It is done for the market; it is very much consensual. That's not voyeurism. It's the performance; it's not real sex either.

Do you think pornography serves to remedy queasiness about nudity and sex? Is nudity over-rated?

All I can say is that I find it very liberating to be able to be in a room with nude people and hardly notice it because I am so used to seeing people like that. We are all so different, and that is half the fun, so it is a shame that people feel so inhibited about appearing nude. Pornography has certainly helped me to be relaxed about nudity and also to learn about my own sexual psyche.

One thing people complain to porn directors is that porn depicts unrealistic performance of sex. Well, you wouldn't say that to any mainstream filmmaker, say one who makes funny films far funnier than real life. You don't expect them to show life 'is occasionally' funny because that wouldn't be very interesting. Porn is about sexual experience as a performance and is meant to be exaggerated, and meant to be more interesting to look at than real life sex.

How is porn 'for women' different from porn 'for men'?

I used to say I made 'porn for women' but I find a lot of men like my stuff as well and now I say I make porn from a female perspective. What I do is, I make all the models make eye contact with each other. I include good looking men. The way the people interact with each other is important, to show they are a three dimensional character and not voiceless mannequins, like a lot of porn films depict women. There is realistic casting, so if a woman is playing a business millionaire, she'll be 40-odd, not 20. I try to show realistic stories and clothes and sex. In "The Hand of the Law," I used the same company to source the police costumes that supplies the TV programme, The Bill, for instance. It's about sexing things up with reality.

The acts are different too. For instance, I lay more emphasis on foreplay for women. I have the people talk to each other ' it's the little details that will make all the difference for women. There's no act I wouldn't do that I found sexy. I don't mind group sex at all. It's about how it's shot, whether the woman is seen to be making the decision for herself. Even if she plays the role of someone who's submissive (as some people are in sex), it's the way it's filmed that's important, whether you can see that person is enjoying it or not.

Some indict pornography as being exploitative of women. How would you reply?

I think there's too much sex on MTV, there's too much sex in adverts. Women are lot less exploited in pornography than in mainstream culture.

Women are constantly being sent these messages that you've to look a certain way ' Paris Hilton, or those in the magazines etc. Young girls see these magazines way before they see any pornography. Porn, for that matter, is very rare, and very much on the sidelines. Unless you go looking for porn on the Internet, you'll see porn less than 1% of your lifetime.

Young people watching MTV are still learning the same old messages that the way the women access power is by taking their clothes off and playing the sex card. Bad magazines and bad television programmes damage young men and women more as they are ubiquitous. Contrary to anti-porn feminism, both men and women learn their sex roles long before experiencing pornography and banning porn is not the panacea to women's problems they think it is.

The porn industry is, in fact, very democratic about the human body. There is a market for anything. I always say to women, if there's any part of your body you don't like, just put it on google, and add '+ sex'. Do you consider yourself to be hairy? Fat? Old? You'll find a site dedicated to your kind of figure or trait, suggesting that is the most attractive thing about you. You cannot say that for any other industry. We're also far more interested in a woman's performance (as well as her looks, admittedly) than other industries.

Which side of the debate are you on making prostitution legal?

I would pornographymake prostitution legal, definitely, just to keep it safe. I think women should be kept away from the bad pimps, and this is the way to do it. The other thing is, people complain it's very base for somebody to sell their body, but we sell our bodies all the time, but worse than that, we sell our minds all the time. When I was a student, I can't tell how many part time jobs I did where I was told 'we don't want you to think, we just want you to do this'. As a hooker, you can have more control of your work (as long as you are not addicted to drugs, admittedly.) You could be a good prostitute or a bad one, and that's only your decision, and how much effort you put into it. On the other hand, a lot of jobs you do, there's no incentive to try at all and people live a 'prostituted' life all the time. People are working their bodies away, and damaging their bodies all the time for work, so I don't see why sexual work should be singled out'.

The state would have to play a role in advocating the rights of prostitutes and to encourage a clear route for prostitutes to access grievance redress processes. You couldn't just be na've to think 'oh it will be nice and organised'.

Please elaborate on 'pro-sex feminism'. In what ways does pornography reflect women's rights?

I used to be anti-pornography. However, when I was 16, walking down the red light district of London, I realised that my anger was actually jealousy because men had their sexuality catered for in various ways ' magazines, prostitutes, strippers. Conversely, women had absolutely nothing. I switched sides ' from anti-porn to pro-porn ' in an instant, and I realised it's much more important for women to promote female sexuality. I realised years later that what I was saying was actually along the lines of Nietzsche, the philosopher. He talked about the master-slave morality, and the master (usually is the man) predicts his own life choices according to pleasures alone, and the slave's role is to say 'I am not like the master following his own pleasures, and therefore am a better person'. The trouble with the slave's position is that it necessarily requires the master, in order that the slave has an identity.

I moved from complaining about men ' in the slave position ' to the master position, exploring my own sexuality, my own pleasures. I think we need women far more pro-active in the sex industry, and outside representatives of sex industry, to show how women see their own sexuality. Pornography plays its part in helping that to happen. If more women were producing porn then it will cease to be this misogynistic thing that it is. The porn industry will go where the money is. If women will start buying in more numbers, then porn will change for the better I believe.

Have you noticed anything common between pornography and politics?

Well, my drive to do porn has always been political, really. I'm carrying on in politics; I intend to stand again in five years time. I certainly see my future in the development of women's rights, but I have a lot of other political ideas too such as the right for young people to have free after school clubs provided for them. This will keep kids off the streets and out of crime, stop them from becoming bored. I am fairly anti-establishment; why should the state tell us how to live? I'm a liberal in that sense; that's where I'm coming from.

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