Wednesday, February 29, 2012

a space for women to explore and define sex on their terms

With my book now soon to be published, I've been fretting a bit over the title. The thing is, I really want to reach out not only to those who already have an interest in good, progressive, feminist sex films, but also to women and men who are critical to porn but have a genuine interest in gender equality and women's rights. I want to show these readers that progressive porn can be a positive space for women to  explore and define sex on their terms. An empowering and inspiring medium for the filmmaker and the viewer to claim her sexuality against a sexualized culture. An actual positive counterweight to pornified media and porn as it’s been known. A visual landscape that presents us with positive ideas and role modeling, shining the light on how we can all break free from traditional gender roles and shatter erotic conventions.

The problem is, of course, that "porn" has such a bad rap in our culture, and for good reasons too. Which brings me to my question: should I leave "porn" out of the title?

As I've explained before in this post, several of the female (porn) filmmakers whose work I look at in my book stay clear of the “porn” word lest they turn their target audience away from their work.

But others refuse to allow men free rein in defining porn, and therefore claim the “porn” word as a way to subversively change its meaning — to change what porn is all about.

This position appeals the most to me. And so though it means I'm working with a word to which many of my target readers are critical, I nevertheless hold on to it. Because the thing is, if we can't concede that porn can be good, it never will be and we'll be stuck with bad porn. Porn that discriminates, degrades, violates, and exploits. That's not what I want for myself or for my daughter when she grows up.

I'm reaching out to you now to ask for your advice; how do I invite the porn critical reader to feel comfortable approaching my book and take a look at it? Should I leave "porn" out of the title, or not?

My book's current title is After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography and Why It Really Matters. This title is of course an allusion to porn critic Pamela Paul's book, Pornified: How Pornography Is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families (2006), which I also discuss in this post. In a post-pornified culture — After Pornified — porn does not damage but instead empowers and inspires our lives and our relationships, and yes, ultimately even the well-being of our families.

Before my book's current title, I was working with a couple fairly bland titles, including The P-Word and New porn. The original Norwegian title was How I Came to Porn, and then it became Good Porn.

I'd like your input on my title dilemma. What do you think about my current title? What might be a better title? For a book that seeks to empower and inspire the reader to claim her sexuality against a pornified culture. For a book that takes the ick factor out of porn. For a book that will appeal to the reader with its inviting, positive, women oriented tone and content.

What kind of presentation (title and cover) would it take for a porn critical reader to pick up such a book, do you think?

I would love your ideas, and if it's a really good one, I may find a way to award it, say with a select film sample.

image credit: better world books

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