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Guest blog: the Girls on Film research project

I’ve an extra guest blog for you today – and it’s one on a topic that’s close to my heart: porn. Amy from @ResearchingPorn is conducting a research on women and porn. As someone who has sat through a number of discussions and panels on porn, I am constantly frustrated by the way that porn’s ‘effects’ are discussed mostly in terms of men. Porn makes men feel X, it makes men do Y, etc etc, with often little to no analysis of the relationship women have with it, even though we make up a significant proportion of the people who watch porn. Amy wants to explore those questions, and she’d love for any women reading this to take the ‘Girls on Film’ questionnaire and help with the research.

The Girls on Film Research Project: Exploring Women’s Perception of Women in the Porn Industry

Pornography is one of the most consumed, but least talked about, industries in our society. Research into its effects, and those who work in porn is growing, but there’s nowhere near enough and I feel it is time we stopped ignoring something that can have such a profound effect on our sexuality.

My name is Amy, I’m a Masters of Research student in Gender and Sexuality Studies at The University of Birmingham. I’m currently writing a thesis which explores the perception of women in the porn industry – particularly from the perspective of women who watch porn themselves. Girl on the Net has kindly allowed me to write this guest blog post to share this project with you, to explain why I’m doing it and to invite you to get involved.

About the pornography research

I’ve been writing about porn for years, sometimes under my own name, sometimes under another. I’m fascinated by pornography; how so many people use it – but so few talk about it; how some use it to arouse, or educate and how this forms expectations of sex; how the internet has revolutionised our access to porn and convinced us that it is not worth paying for. Pornography is a huge, changing, unexplored phenomenon that feminists, sex bloggers and researchers are trying to engage with and make sense of.

My research project focuses on the role of women in porn. So often the female body is the focus of the footage, but what do we see in this representation? Do we see ourselves in these performers, do we see our own sexuality or fantasies in the stories? What about women who direct porn? Do they make films that challenge the current state of porn or do they perpetuate the tropes of mainstream sex on film?

I have created an online, anonymous questionnaire which explores these topics, how they relate to sexual orientation, relationship status and age and how this supports or challenges research that has gone before.

I don’t want to persuade you to my point of view on pornography. What I really want to know is how other women feel about these questions. I’ve spent years writing from my own, feminist/queer/porn-positive-but-keen-to-see-better-work-created perspective and its time to represent the perspectives of other women who watch porn.

Why this project?

Despite full support and ethical approval from my supervisors and The University of Birmingham, I’ve encountered many people who don’t understand why this research is taking place. A lot of people who have asked me about my research are curious to know where am I going to find women who are willing to talk about porn?

To those people I smile sweetly and I answer that I know there are women who want to talk about porn because I am one of them. My friends, people I have written for, Girl on the Net, fabulous sex bloggers and readers like you are women who can, do and want to talk about porn. We are massively under-represented in sexuality research and this desperately needs to change.

I hope that my work adds to a much-needed discussion about porn and offers women the chance to have their voices and opinions acknowledged. This project is by no means an exhaustive or definitive piece of research, but it aims to explore a facet of pornography that has hitherto been unjustly ignored.

How can you get involved?

If you are a woman and are interested in the research, please visit my webpage which explains more about the project and how to take part. The questionnaire is completely anonymous and open to people all over the world. Participants must be over 18 years old, have watched pornography, and identify as female (those with alternative gender identities are welcome to participate, I am starting from a standpoint that pornography has long appealed to men and male sexual desires, and how women, or those who do not identify as male, engage with a product that they are repeatedly told is not for them). Feel free to retweet and share this to friends and people who would be interested, the more voices the better!

To the men who have taken the time to read this (who do not qualify for the research but support it) please retweet and share the link as you see fit. Share it with your friends and spread the word to give the lovely ladies in your life a voice about the porn they watch!

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to get in touch. I can be found on Twitter @ResearchingPorn or via the email address on the website.

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