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'Taxpayers should not have to fund feminist porn'

'Taxpayers should not have to fund feminist porn'

Published: 03 Sep 2009 19:41 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Sep 2009 19:41 GMT+02:00

Thursday September 3rd sees the premiere of Mia Engberg's ‘Dirty diaries’, a feminist porn movie funded by the Swedish Film Institute. Engberg received 500,000 kronor ($69,000) from the Institute to make the movie.

Engberg has also tried to make feminist porn before, which has resulted in a lesbian porn film and a film of women's' facial expressions at the point of orgasm. Her vision is to get make the porn industry more appealing to women, all in the name of feminism. She also claims that women's sexuality is more multi-faceted than men's.

But to argue that girls having sex with girls and women masturbating is somehow a good alternative to mainstream porn feels like a completely alien concept to me, and to many other women. Furthermore, most people would agree that the state should not fund pornography. And when it does, should it really only benefit women, all in the name of equality? If a man had sought and received similar funding for ‘regular’ porn, it wouldn’t have taken long before there was an outcry from supporters of equality between the sexes.

Although the market catering for women's sexuality is increasing, it is still limited. There can be no doubt that the porn industry is dominated by men. It is therefore not the idea of developing the industry in favour of women that is upsetting – this is something that many women would welcome - it is the fact that it is happening with our tax money under the cloak of feminism. By labeling lesbian sex as feminist, it also contributes to the prejudiced notion that the equality debate is all about excluding men and privileging women.

In my opinion, one of the main reasons the porn industry is male-dominated and not particularly attractive to women is that ‘regular’ porn movies often feature a great deal of sex between women. Being heterosexual, it is not very exciting to watch. Oddly, it seems to have the opposite effect on men. Lesbian porn is far from the solution to creating a porn market that appeals to more women. While it might very well broaden the market for people with different sexual orientations, it should not trade under the banner of feminism.

Engberg's aim -- to make mainstream porn less mainstream, and complex rather than flat -- is definitely not something that the state should be paying for, regardless of whether it is lesbian or feminist porn. If the state was to sponsor alternative genres in every field just to create more options, the costs would soon be astronomical. Just because some of us don’t enjoy mainstream music like Britney Spears, which we maybe find flat and lacking in nuance, it doesn’t mean we should expect the state to fund underground metal music. In the same way, the fact that Mia Engberg doesn't like mainstream porn does not mean the state should sponsor feminist or lesbian porn.

It’s not so long since Sweden’s Feminist Initiative received 400,000 kronor from the state to fund its educational programme. Soon afterwards, Engberg was given 500,000 for feminist porn. You don’t have to be a genius to work out that feminism has earned a special status and has somehow been deemed deserving of people's tax money in order to fund everything from seminars to pornography.

It’s saddening to see that respect for taxpayers’ money is almost non-existent. While everyone is of course in favour of equality, there is no consensus that it can be achieved through feminism, or feminist pornography for that matter. The fact that there is a woman wanting to make alternative porn for women, maybe even only involving women, does not make it any more deserving from a gender equity standpoint. Men do not get the same kind of sponsorship, and ‘male’ pornography is denied the status of art seemingly merited by ‘female’ porn. Surely the question of whether you prefer the naked body of a man or a woman is very much a subjective matter.

Women will eventually have their needs represented on the market as demand increases. If we women want more alternatives, as increasingly seems to be the case, we will make our own demands on the market and output will increase. If we don't want to watch girls having sex with other girls, we should not pay for it, either voluntarily or through taxes. The state does not need to redistribute our money to places where it believes it is wanted.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Art is subjective. For the state to decide that feminist porn is art but ‘regular’ porn is reprehensible is little more than paternalistic moralising and sends out all the wrong signals in the equality debate. Equality is an important issue, but it should never function as a cloak for state funding of ideologies that are somehow deemed correct in the eyes of the authorities.

In a democracy people should be able to decide for themselves the ideas and values they would like to sponsor, and what is and what is not art. People’s morals are a private matter and it should be up to each individual whether they want to pay for feminist porn - or something else entirely.

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Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

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Your comments about this article

08:26 September 4, 2009 by Xavid
Good article. I agree with the author 100%
09:51 September 4, 2009 by Britswedeguy
A self-defeating argument - she states that the state should not decide what art is AND that the work isn't art so the state shouldn't fund it. Who is she to decide - a self-proclaimed anti-feminist and certainly no art expert. This work has provoked thought and debate - something the right-wing Moderates certainly don't like.
11:54 September 4, 2009 by LundenLad
The state can fund art if it wants; anyone can tell what porn is though, its material designed to sexually arouse. If its porn the state should not be funding it. It must be very nice if your job depends on state funding to get a grant to make a film on something that interests you, turns you on even. But if you would not make any money otherwise because not enough people would buy what you produce, then this is just vanity publishing at the taxpayers expense.
12:39 September 4, 2009 by Xavid
Yep its porn. They even call it porn themselves.

The state gave our money to produce Porn. Maybe art porn. But porn it is.
13:07 September 4, 2009 by Beynch
The fact that it's even considered is an insult!!! What is this `Swedish Feminist Initiative` anyway? What's their real agenda? Seems to me this is nothing more than part of an effort to radically alter the Swedish Society, and make it do a sharp left. Stop any further contributions to this undesirable filth now!
13:49 September 4, 2009 by farnoxo
hey, why stop at feminist porn - maybe we can have a few more silly classifcations of porn:

"corn porn" - porn with schmaltzy love stories

"worn porn" - for the older generation

"sworn porn" - with expesically dirty language

"mourn porn" - porn to watch afetr your lover has died

"dorm porn" - kinda self explainatory!

"norm porn" - bog standard, "missionary position with the lights out" porn

"björn porn" - a rebradnding of the classic Swedish blue movies

"drawn porn" - hentai or other animated porn.

"lawn porn" - a bit of crumpet for the upper crust English gentleman

"horn porn" - featuring especially well endowed male actors

... the list continues
15:07 September 4, 2009 by eZee.se
Nearly every country will find some worthless cause to throw tax payer money on, this one is Swedens.

Just be happy its 'just' half a million, and not 10 million to be given over a span of 5 years or something. Oops, hope i didnt give the dingbats an idea....
16:04 September 4, 2009 by StuartM
@Beynch

Why shouldn't the Feminist Initiative get 400,000 towards their educational programmes? If they radically alter society then that can only be a good thing because we live in a pretty sick misogynistic society at the moment. I wonder how much money gets ploughed into anti-feminist, pro-patriarchal propaganda, into the commercial porn / beauty / cosmetic surgery industries, or into the pockets of right-wing politicians and reactionary religious nutters.
17:02 September 4, 2009 by vladd777
I'm glad I'm old!
17:23 September 4, 2009 by Beynch
@StuartM

The marxist stench oozing out of your blurb is revolting. May the Sahliness and her minions be demoted to a footnote in history in 2010.
17:30 September 4, 2009 by Rebel
Actually research on sexuality has shown what many men already know -- expose a heterosexual woman to a lesbian sex scene on screen and that woman's libido goes through the roof. Some of the most anti-homosexual women I know will admit that the only porn they think is "erotic" is that featuring women only. I suspect much of the experimentation in lesbian sex today is due to porn, and I am sure that many feminists know this, and may welcome a feminist genre of film to establish itself which may act as a gateway for young women to at least give the thought of bi-sexuality some attention.
23:13 September 4, 2009 by Byggare Bob
No luckily for you Beatrice you don't have to be a 'genius' to work out that feminism has earned a special status.

But that special status is by no means a priviledged one. It means instead being derided at every turn for arguing for some very obvious and essentially uncontroversial things such as legal, political and physical equality.

The liberation from the restrictions of conservative gender sterotypes that feminist theory offers are at least as attractive for men as they are for women.

There are also as many feminisms as there are political ideologies - these issues are not owned by the left even if the struggle to fuse liberalism with feminism is not an easy one in practice.

In theory what could be more liberal that everyone should be judged on their merits as individuals regardless of creed, colour, gender, sex or age or any other crude category for that matter?

Where Liberalism often fails in its failure to recognize a structure - a patriachy is a structure, one that is not the exclusive domain of men.

It is also a structure which oppresses males as well as females, hetero, homo or anywhere in between. To illustrate look at the male roles in commercial porn or how men are habitually described in rape cases - animals that exercise no control over their impulses and whose actions are steered by hormones alone.

500,000 poxy kronor to have a go at creating alternative porn - all films are designed to stimulate the senses is this really so dramatically different.

I agree that it is probably wasted money - what can one short film do to change a massive sordid industry? At least the director (once an anti-porn feminist) could be given credit for trying.

I like porn -but it could be so much better.

To put the figures in perspective:

the Stockholm Opera receives over 300 million kronor per year for a handful of performances that a handful of people can afford to see.

Stefan Valdemar Holm (former Dramaten boss) has received funding of over 150 million kronor in his career and has not yet managed to direct a single play written by a woman.

Jan Guillou's Arn films cost 210 million kronor to make.

Oh and Beatrice - "Anti-Feminist Initiative - is it the feminist or the initiative you are against? - how about being for something for a change.
01:24 September 5, 2009 by DreEstwd
C'mon. Anyone complaining about this should be bludgeoned. $69,000? I'm 100% positive that there are 69,000 people out there in the world who would gladly drop $1 to check this out. In fact, I would lay money down that there are a couple million who would. Even if you are a complete tool and find it degrading to women or whatever, just be happy your dollar is going to something harmless like this and not to some dude in Rosengård who has been jobless for 10 years and doesn't speak 2 words of Swedish.
02:43 September 5, 2009 by Greg in Canada
Lighten up Beatrice. Governments give out artistic grants all the time for far goofier projects. At least I might actually enjoy watching this film. And I'm also not a feminist.
11:19 September 5, 2009 by Harding00
I would bet if some other group decided they wanted to make a porn film they would be denied. Say PETA wanted to make a porn film where they use different types of vegetables, do you think they would get money from the government? I know it's a lame example, but what it comes down to is that this group got money to make porn. And no, I am not against porn either. But I don't think my tax money should go to something like that. And @DreEstwd, I think we should be able to complain. But you're right, a lot of people would probably pay to see this type of film, and if that's the case, then why do they need the money from the government, and thus from our taxes, and our paychecks. And the videos were all filmed on cell phones, so why did they need so much money to do this. I know that there are more costs than just for the video camera, but common, really, 500,000 kronor?
11:25 September 5, 2009 by diegoveggie
somehow, politicians' support for porn kinda makes sense...
11:32 September 5, 2009 by Harding00
Well, if the politicians here are anything like the former governor of my home state of New York, then yes, it does make sense, doesn't it? And I'm referring to former governor Spitzer who hired a very expensive hooker. But at least he used his own money.
13:32 September 5, 2009 by Marc the Texan
I thought feminist porn meant romance novels.
19:30 September 5, 2009 by the pigeon hunter
i weirdly strongly agree with the article because i just think porn shouldn't be state-funded. plus, it especially shouldn't be state-funded on the pretext to be feminist.

i am female but i think that feminism tends to be too leftist too much of the time to be genuinely caring ONLY about equality between genders. the way it looks to me is that feminism it mostly cares about communistic ideas enforced by lesbians.

on the other hand i also agree with some of you who said that it doesn't actually matter that it's "feminist" porn, since nobody is stopping men from watching it and they will sure have a good time doing it.

but still. if porn is going to be state-sponsored it is wrong to just sponsor one type of it. as the article has pointed out, it is very subjective as to what type of porn any one person, may they be male or female, prefers. so just sponsoring lesbian porn only but not any other forms is pointless. i wonder what would happen if a group of women stood up and said that they actually prefer watching heterosexual porn. would that also get sponsored?
19:47 September 5, 2009 by StuartM
It's not an all-lesbian film anyway (as is obvious from the website) and noone is saying that heterosexual sex is in some way incompatible with feminism. However what the film tries to be is non-exploitative and not based on private profit. The Swedish state is in no way being biased simply by refusing to contribute money to films which are based on the exploitation and abuse of women (as commercial male-dominant porn clearly is).
21:16 September 5, 2009 by Hermlover
Will The Local be giving equal time and column inches to alternative and less misogynist points of view?
22:58 September 6, 2009 by BCR
I prefer my taxes go on healthcare and education... not porn. Thats what I pay my ISP for!
02:41 September 7, 2009 by elust
It's a very sad news that this happened, as a feminist, as Swedish citizen, and as producer and director of adult movies, I feel ashamed that public money has to go to found porn productions of any kind. I've just seen that they have make a DVD and they are selling it. I want to know if the money they will earn will go back to the state!

Erika Lust (www.erikalust.com)
13:25 September 7, 2009 by Streja
I don't want my tax money to go to the writer's party, but it does!
15:17 September 7, 2009 by eZee.se
Good point eLust, if they are selling the DVD the money should go back to the state if not... then the copies should be free as we have alreadypaid for them (via our taxes).

Good point indeed.
23:03 September 7, 2009 by Urinal Gum
I can't really judge until I've seen the film. If it's good, I'll have to watch it in three-minute spurts over the course of a few days.
10:20 September 8, 2009 by scrutatore
uhm..i think if this would happen in italy the first premier would have been given financial help to the film maker as well lol
10:43 September 8, 2009 by YAY 4 SWE
Swedish politicians make a very very bad name foe feminists all around the world. In my country many right-wingers call swedish women " feminazi" and news like taht only gives credence to that kind of rightwing bullshit-talk.

Feminist politicians say that they want to make a differnece in an unequal world but really as we can see they are as corrupt by greed and power as any other politicians. Well maybe that's what tehy really have to say about equality. Great work!

And if somebody in swedish gov really wants to help the porn industry, well just stay the f%^lk away from your taxpayers money and gave them hand!

(And by hand I mean a hand.)

"power corrupts and absolute power corupts absollutely"
10:43 September 9, 2009 by Jim Prewitt
Cum Cum now...Women are afraid to have this study done because most of us in the know that women really do prefer women and that would make men's fantasies the same as Women's.

Study after study after study reveal women's #1 fantasy is Girl On Girl.

Cum on ladies admit it, just as in dressing up us Men cum SECOND in your sexual Fantasies.
00:19 September 10, 2009 by AnemoneC
I am confused. How is it that the country that brought us the "Swedish model" of prostitution legislation allows porn to be made in the first place, never mind funding it. Isn't the making of porn just another form of prostitution? After all, you're paying someone to have sex, aren't you?
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