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A Right to Lust

The subtler charms of feminist pornography are finding an audience in the Czech Republic

Erika Lust: Pouta • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta
Erika Lust: Pouta • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta
Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS
Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS

The Czech sex industry is developing a new terminology. Local media are running interviews with the female directors of movies dubbed feminist porn; the first erotic e-shop primarily targeting women opened in the Czech Republic last autumn; and quite a number of publishing houses are targeting this group of potential clients. Worldwide, porn for women has been around for 20 years but it's only just reaching the Czech Republic. And while nobody is betting on a revolution, something is changing. Feminists in the academic field see the new trend as a way to greater gender equality.

Two scenes
Handsome pizza delivery boy rings doorbell. Young woman opens door, "accidentally" wearing nothing but a towel and suspenders and glossy high-heel shoes. She searches for her money but the young man tells her, lustily, that she can pay in a different way. The young woman then does everything the man asks, and, of course, gazes into the camera pouting her lips. Oral sex is part of the ensuing scene, which ends with a close-up of the delivery boy's ejaculation.

Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS
Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS

If this infamous porn scene were shot by a feminist, it would look completely different. The sex act would be controlled by a woman, the accidental meeting wouldn't take place only on a sofa but would be part of a longer story, involving more mystique and games, and, rather than a male climax, the movie would end with a conversation.

"We were long told that the rhythm of a sexual act is totally in the hands of a man," says Libuše Konopová, the owner of an erotic e-shop selling primarily female porn. "But it's over now. Just as women are penetrating the male worlds of business and politics, they're doing it in pornography too."

Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS
Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS

One of the first women to go down that road in the Czech Republic was the artist

Lenka Klodová

. Five years ago, as part of her PhD thesis, she created a mock-up of a pornographic magazine for women, Ženin, the goal of which was to depict scenes that would satisfy female tastes.

"I wanted to get sex to where it belongs: on a woman's more personal level, where it isn't manipulated by what men want,"

she explained.

Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS
Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS

While feminist porn elsewhere in the world has contributed to the shaping and recognition of female sexual identity, this debate still has a low profile in the Czech Republic.

"Porn has a clear purpose: money on one side and the satisfaction of sexual needs on the other. Everyone is looking only for his or her own way,"

says

Linda Sokačová

, director of the Gender Studies organization.

So are women shooting feminist porn to satisfy their own desires, or are they showing men how to treat women better?

Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS
Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS

Good girls go undone

It's both, but in practice it's very difficult to trace. For example, it's impossible to find out who buys Sex nejen pro ženy ("Sex Not Just for Women"), a book about feminist porn that's currently on sale in the Czech Republic. When it comes to online shopping, it's mainly men who are ordering it.

"Women don't need videos to stir their imaginations,"

says

Lada Smutná

of City Reflex, a company that owns a chain of sex shops in the Czech Republic.

Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS
Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS

Lenka Klodová considers this view to be a classic cliché.

"Why wouldn't women respond to visuals?"

she asks, adding that the reason women didn't use erotic tools such as magazines and movies until now was a lack of supply; the market was oriented solely toward male needs. Libuše Konopová, the owner of the female-oriented online sex shop, agrees.

"Of course women can get turned on by visual impulses but they have to identify themselves with them."

"Basically, we want to see ourselves," says Erika Lust, a Swedish producer and director of feminist porn films. Her book Porn for Women will be published in the Czech Republic this spring with an planned print run of 50,000 copies – far higher than average. The author herself is expected to visit Prague at that time too.

Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS
Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS

According to Linda Sokačová of Gender Studies, Czech feminists haven't participated in the debate on female erotic films because they fear that the link with porn might harm them. But there are exceptions. Right now, a book titled Hodné holky se dívají jinam ("Good Girls Look Aside"), written by Czech sociologist Kateřina Lišková is going to print. Two years ago, her lectures on feminist porn were few and far between. As of last autumn, her diary was getting very full.

Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS
Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS • Autor: Erika Lust: Pouta / Foto: Lust Cinema, GUSTAVO LOPEZ MAÑAS

"People for whom porn was for a long time offensive are inviting me now. Female porn interests many, people, there's no question about it" she says.

"The emancipation of women doesn't concern only the public sector, education or the labor market. It's about the private sphere, too. Women are beginning to request their right to lust."

• This is a shortened, translated version of the original article, Právo na slast, which first appeared in Respekt 3/2010

Translated By Kateřina Šafaříková

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