Tales of a Feminist Porn Critic

By Alexandra Fileccia

Her latest blog post reads, “You guys. You guys. Oh my god, you guys. My brain is a whirling, whorling mass of confusion right now. Because DRONE BONING has apparently arrived. And yes, it is porn filmed by a drone.” Lynsey G is probably among a small percentage of women interested in advancements in the porn industry. And that’s because 31-year-old Lynsey writes about feminist porn and sex-positive feminism, a niche she’s made her own.

Lynsey freelances and works a romance-novel editing job to pay the bills. She got her “big break” writing reviews for adult entertainment films—and by “big break” I mean a writing job that pays well for minimal work (hard to come by in the writing and publishing industries) and provides a place to be published, even if by a ridiculous penname. However, she was quick to realize that reviewing porn movies wasn’t as glamorous at it initially sounded. “I came to [my job] thinking this would be really cool. I thought, ‘I’ll be the coolest person anybody knows because I’m reviewing porn,’” she says. But while watching films over the course of that job, she realized there were no plots and just hardcore, focused-on-straight-cis-male-viewers, porn. It was not as cool as she thought she was going to be.

Starting out with pornography sparked her interest in studying women and how they are treated in our society. She says, “My feminism wasn’t fully developed until later in life.” She graduated from Fordham University, a historically Jesuit school, so there were no gender classes or sex and sexuality classes. She studied writing, literature and philosophy which Lynsey says were mostly centered on religious texts and teachings. “I don’t think I’m one of their favorite alumni,” Lynsey says in gest. “Most of my publications are not going to go in the alumni bulletin. It’s a shame, I’m doing great stuff!”

More often than not, people are afraid or sometimes embarrassed to talk about sex. “I was raised with a sort of paranoia about sex,” Lynsey says. Her mother was a very strong woman and a strong figure in her life, so she did grow up with the idea that women can be very powerful people. However, sex was not a part of that equation at all. As she grew up, Lynsey was always exploring and trying to learn as much as she could about sex. There wasn’t a lot of information available when she was growing up in her hometown in rural Pennsylvania where most of the community was old fashioned and conservative. Lynsey attributes her super obsession with sex to those formative years. “I was a pervert from a young age,” Lynsey says and then chuckles.

Lynsey only recently started to identify with the word “feminist.” It was actually through porn that she started thinking about it. Though she was interested in sex from a young age, she was never particularly interested in porn, especially the kind of porn she ended up reviewing. If she were to stumble across the films she was reviewing on the Internet on her own, Lynsey says she would’ve thought the women in the videos were being taken advantage of and hurt. Now, she knows that isn’t true because part of the reviewing gig allowed her to later interview the performers. But for some reason people want porn to look like that’s what’s happening—a male taking advantage of a woman. “As a feminist, I believe that women can do whatever they want with their bodies,” Lynsey says, “but the larger issue is why do people want woman to do this with their bodies, and why is this what they want to do with their bodies?” She needed to figure out how she felt.

Can porn be feminist? What constitutes feminist porn? Lynsey says a lot of the feminist discussion has to do with how the [porn] product is made. The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Making Pleasure, published in 2013 by The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, contains a long definition, but Lynsey says it can be very subjective. She mainly looks at porn based on three criteria: are the filmmakers subverting or transgressing the idea that porn is for men by men; are they working against the idea that porn is exploitative. Are adult entertainment filmmakers actively working not to exploit the people that are performing for the film; and are they trying to show the fact that they do these things to their audience? If the makers are following these guidelines, then they are most likely producing feminist porn.

Through her various writing jobs, she has met a lot of interesting people. “I have interviewed a lot of porn stars in a lot of different settings and for a lot of different reasons,” Lynsey says, “and honestly most of those experiences were totally normal because most porn stars are totally normal people.” Every now and then, though, things do get weird.

At some point during her adult video reviewing, Lynsey was watching this gang bang scene and thought, This is really, logistically difficult. How do they arrange all of these people and make all this actually happen like what’s going on behind the scenes? So she researched the topic and came across this woman named Sabrina Deep who performs in gang bangs almost exclusively. Once she saw that Sabrina Deep was going to be in New York, Lynsey set up an interview to answer all of her questions. The interview was great, but during the conversation she kept moving closer to Lynsey and flirting. After the interview was over, Lynsey says Sabrina Deep overtly came on to her. For weeks afterward, Sabrina was sending Lynsey messages and publicly tweeting about how she dreamt about a bunch of guys unloading on both of their faces at the same time. “I was like ‘No! That’s not what I want!” Lynsey says, “I’m interested in this for purely intellectual reasons.”

Later on in her career, Lynsey landed a yearlong column with McSweeney’s Internet Tendency in which she asked all the questions she’s had about sex and porn. She says she got a lot of backlash from porn stars about her column on the question, “Why is it always coming on the face?” This column gave her a responsibility to write, talk and ask about sex.

She goes by Lynsey G and not her full name because her mom and family are afraid of what she writes about. She says they are appalled by her writing subjects, though she’s not as seeped in porn as she used to be. Lynsey says her family doesn’t need to be exposed to it regularly.

“I guess I’m an idealist,” Lynsey says. She hopes the issues she’s writing about are important to people aside from herself. Her goal is to help people think about things in new ways, but it can be frustrating when her message is not heard.

“I feel like I have been writing about these topics for long enough,” Lynsey says, “that I am amazed and annoyed that people continue to ask questions like ‘can porn be feminist?’ or ‘Is it okay for feminists to have sex with men?’” her tone is mocking as she asks the example questions that infuriate her. Lynsey wants to get the message out by writing about it in ways that people find acceptable because avoiding conversations about sex is causing so many problems for so many people around the world. Lynsey says she hopes the feminist standpoint is made more normal through her writings and the efforts of other sex-positive feminists. Like she’s emphasized numerous times throughout our interview, she certainly doesn’t write about sex for the pay.

 

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