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Goodyn Green’s "Between Sheets" seriesGoodyn Green

The porn festival shifting attitudes to sex on screen

PorYes is a female-led, sex-positive event that wants to celebrate fair porn and make it less masculine

Being a vibrant haven for diversity and culture, it wouldn’t make sense to have Europe’s first feminist porn movie award ceremony anywhere else but Berlin. The city has welcomed the PorYes awards with open arms since 2009, acknowledging that "feminist pornography" or "sexpositive feminism" is also a counterculture; as it repels the mainstream "norms’"of erotica by confronting sexism in pornography.

Advocating the positive portrayal of sexuality, PorYes celebrates and also embraces contemporary attitudes within the adult film industry, making way for the establishment of a much needed sex-positive shift in erotic culture. Taking place every two years, the 2015 event will occupy take place between October 17-19 at the Hackesche Höfe Kino, an independent arthouse cinema in Berlin Mitte.

“The idea of PorYes emerged around the last millennium when more and more women filmed, produced and distributed their own erotica particularly as a form of protest against the malestream sexism and racism” explains Dr Laura Mérritt, a sexpert and PorYes juror. “From the 1960s on, the sex positive women’s movement supported another language for sex and especially positive words and pictures for female sexuality. This movement becomes bigger and more popular as the public interest in feminist porn increases. PorYes has reached the media by bringing together feminism and porn which has been thought by some people only as an opposition. As we live in a pornographic society where you can barely escape porn sexism, people are interested in alternatives in erotic pictures and also in sexual knowledge. PorYes satisfies the demand for positive and fair porn.”

PorYes sets to convert a public space into a manifestation of women’s pornography, not only promoting but also forming a sex-positive shift in erotic culture. Presenting a political and progressive subsidiary to the "old boys" productions in porn, PorYes and Dr Laura Mérritt are ready to send a groundbreaking gender-political message and stimulate discussion. “I tell my daughters to sexperiment whatever they want to, and first to make sure a safe space and a safe communication with all participants is given," says Merritt. "Always being able to say no and stop is part of the play, learning to ask and give feedback means sexual competence.”

Now about to celebrate its fourth series of events, this year’s PorYes awards are set to be as diverse as ever, with nominees ranging from erotica imagists and porn stars to photographers and filmmakers. “Our nominees are from different ages and cultures and profile in their very individual style of deconstructing gender and sex stereotypes,” says Mérritt. “We love to see sexual communication, safer sex, slow porn or anything that is sex-positive, consensual and supports diversity. This year our focus is on body norms – nominees like Buck Angel and Jiz Lee are famous for depicting genderqueerness.”

Berlin-based Dutch photographer and current nominee Goodyn Green added, “I believe that the PorYes awards is helping to change many people's view on porn from negative to positive by putting a focus on feminist and queer porn, they show it from another perspective which sadly is still unknown to most people.” Regarding her interest in capturing androgyny in her work, Goodyn says: “In the queer world I’m surrounded by androgynous people, including myself, so it just comes naturally when I include androgyny in my photographic work. I think there generally is a larger focus on dividing the roles among the protagonists in lesbian porn, in either butches or femmes. Personally, I would like to see more androgyny displayed.”

‘A main focus on male ejaculation in women's faces as the sexual climax is reducing the "masculine" as the main repertoire of sex practices’

Recent studies have shown that contemporary women’s attitudes towards erotica are changing, with a high documentation of discriminatory behaviour and violence within pornograhy. PorYes seeks to carry on the transformation to revolutionise healthy and consensual sexual experimentation, stemming from the “social movements and, primarily, the women’s movement, which has changed sexual ethics over the past 35 years and introduced a new set of ethics in negotiation.”

Mérritt says that “the message to the old boys of pornography is diversity. There are many ways to show lusty and respectful, consensual and realistic sexuality between different genders. A main focus on male ejaculation in women's faces as the sexual climax is reducing the "masculine" as the main repertoire of sex practices. Fair porn is an option to think about and humour is very relaxing for all.”

”Tons of people tell me, women and men alike, that the concept of ‘feminist porn’ is a brain-breaker for them. How can porn be feminist?” asks Jennifer Lyon Bell, director of Blue Artichoke films and current PorYes nominee. “But once we get to talking, most people intuitively grasp how fulfilling it could be to see porn that’s ethically made and shows women’s sexuality in a realistic way, even if there’s lots of fantasy involved. For me this kind of porn feels completely natural and normal; it’s just plain more fun for me to watch. I like getting other people to feel that way too. Thanks in part to the PorYes European Feminist Porn Award openly celebrating this kind of porn diversity, slowly the mainstream media seem to be catching on that there is no one monolith called ‘PORN’. There are lots of kinds of porn, and some of them are not only fun but make you feel good in a deeper way.”

PorYes events include the award ceremony, industry talks and panel discussions, plus a party with DJ Third_Space. Tickets can be purchased online, with discounts handed to those holding a "Porn Queen Card" who distinguish themselves as revolutionary supporters of the sex positive network. Porn star or not, PorYes invites like-minded guests to converse in celebrating an area of pornography that’s widely overlooked and often undervalued.