PorYes is the name of the first European feminist porn movie award. For the first time in 2009, feminist, European porn directors were awarded in Berlin. With the "oyster-trophy" porn movies are awarded that show mainly female desire and care about a variety of sexuality. Furthermore, mainly women should be involved in the production of the film. The PorYes was also be established as a cachet for feminist porn.
The women participating and initiating the event see themselves as part of the "sex-positive women´s movement". The festival is arranged by a Berlin sex-shop for women and the Berlin network “Freudenfluss”, which supports “holistic and manifold lust and love styles”. A famous supporter of “PorYes” is the German left-wing newspaper “taz”.
The initiators of the feminist porno film prize wanted it to contribute to positive sexual enlightenment. Therefore, they wanted to establish “PorYes” as a certificate to differentiate "the typical, largely sexist and cliché porn from the women- and human-oriented sex-positive porn productions." Thus, the Feminist Porno Film Prize awards special productions and also the life-work of people who try to contribute to this sex-positive depiction of women in porn. Awarded genres are, for example: "Sex documentation (documentaries), sexperts (educational films), feature films with sex scenes, sexual orientations (like heterotica, lesbirotica, queerotica or transporno), particular practices like safe sex porn or sexual competence and general excitement, intelligent porn (with dialogues), more remotely special stories, sound, or even a business prize for successful women in the porn industry."
The festival initiators wanted to revolutionize mainstream porn industries. They have tried to set certain standards of artificial and representative integrity by promoting feminist porn movies. For the PorYes jury, it is especially important that female desire and pleasure is an essential part of the movie, whereas “in mainstream porn the women often look weary and worn out, as if they come from an area of conflict (…).” Porn awarded by PorYes should ideally show more varieties of female desire than mainstream porn does. Moreover, the movies should not lead straightly, or care mainly about, the male orgasm. It is the aim of the awards to show sex-positive depictions of all genders and to celebrate the variety of sexual orientations and bodies.
Since the 1970s, there has been a wing of the women’s movement, called sexpositive feminism, advocating for the positive portrayal of sexuality in pornography. While there were, in the 1980s, the so-called "Feminist Sex Wars" mainly in the Anglo-Saxon realm, continental European feminists were more in agreement. Although there were campaigns against porn, for example the famous PorNo campaign of the popular German feminist Alice Schwarzer in 1987, a different view towards the theme developed on which the sexpositive feminism movement can be founded. PorYes also states that “a sexpositive stance often grew out of, or even concurrently shaped, an antipornographic stance.“
New research also shows a new interest of women in porn movies within the last 30 years. This might be the consequence of the changing sexual morality in more recent years, which influenced the sexual behavior of women. For example, the Danish production firm “Innocent Pictures” reacts to that new development, and they try to make porn especially for women, which is called “HeartCore”. There even exists a manifest, which constitutes what kind of sex may be shown in the movie, so that women can enjoy the porn. Although there are more sex toys and mainstream porn, which are especially produced for women, PorYes states that this does not “change the fact that the majority of leading products are produced under unethical work conditions, often at the cost of the environment.“ So, PorYes set certain criteria for feminist porno movies in order to inform the public and support discussion.
PorYes has created certain criteria for feminist porn movies:A sex-positive attitude, no de-humanising or misogynistic portrayals.
Roles in collusion with those involved / no crossing of personal borders.
Ethical work conditions and safe sex is encouraged.
Those involved will be shown in relation to one another - eye, skin, hand, and body contact, energy exchange.
Emotions and declarations of love are encouraged, doable, and showable.
Diverse camera settings, light and shadow games.
Variations of sexual practices in joyful transitions, not an achievement test, broadening of the stereotypically portrayed spectrum.
A variety of body types, ages, genders, sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds.
Authentic sound recordings or music. No gender-stereotypical amplified dubbing of moaning.
Portrayal of lust and pleasure, focus on female lust and its diversity.
No schematic portrayals of the “sexual curve” – that is to say no straight zoom in on the male ejaculation, no emphasis of the male cum shot. Orgasms are not the only goal.
Women are significantly involved in the production of the film as producers, directors, or camerawomen.
The porn festival is mainly arranged by “Sexklusivitäten”, a special sex shop for women in Berlin, where sexual lectures and workshops, especially for women, are held. “Sexklusivitäten” characterizes itself as “the first women-oriented sex-business and the sexual communication center of Europe”. Owner of the shop and main initiator of the PorYes event is Laura Méritt, who has a Ph.D. in the science of social communication and wide experience as a sexologist. She calls herself a "sex-worker" or “sex-expert”. She also founded a lesbian escort service in Berlin. Laura Méritt stands for the acceptance of different forms of relationships (e.g. polygamy) and also for the use of healthy materials for sex toys.
The "mother" of the European feminist porn festival are the “The Good For Her Feminist Porn Awards“ in Toronto, Canada. The festival is arranged by the women sex-shop “Good For Her”, which was founded in 2006.
The principles for the awarded movies are similar to the European ones:
- A woman had a hand in the production, writing, direction, etc. of the work.
- It depicts genuine female pleasure.
- It expands the boundaries of sexual representation on film and challenges stereotypes that are often found in mainstream porn.
Overall, Feminist Porn Award winners tend to show movies that consider a female viewer from start to finish.
The PorYes festival also sees itself in the tradition of the ”Pornfilmfestival Berlin”, which also distances itself from mainstream porn and showcases alternative porn. For example, “SEXJUNKIE” of the German filmmaker Julia Ostertag, which was shown there in 2006.
Like PorYes, this festival, and also the world’s biggest, annual, mainstream erotic-fair “Venus”, are usually held in Berlin in October.
The second PorYes festival took place in October 2011 in Berlin at the "Hackesche Höfe Cinema". Awards for the best works went to Catherine Breillat, Rusty Cave, Mia Engberg and Emilie Jouvet.
Breillat is a French author and filmmaker, whose work focuses on sexual identity, social criticism and eroticism. Cave, from England, creates “Sex-Comedies”, which show European lesbian porn, and the Swedish Mia Engberg wrote the script for “Dirty Diaries”, a collection of diverse Swedish feminist porn funded by the Swedish state. Emilie Jouvet is a filmmaker and photographer from Paris, who has already won an award in 2006 for her first queer-porn “One Night Stand”. In 2011, her documentary about a European X-Road-Show by female sex activists was shown in Berlin. The event was under the patronage of Ula Stöckl, a feminist filmmaker living and teaching in Orlando. She also was part of the jury, which consists of five women, all involved in feminist porn from a cultural or practical point of view. PorYes was presented by Margaret von Schiller, an experienced film producer and also coordinator of the “International Film Festival Berlin”.
There are critics of the feminist porn films, who state that feminist porn is as much interfering men as mainstream porn interferes women. German ethnographer Sabine Lüdtke-Pilger, who has mainly examined female pornography from directors Petra Joy and Jessica Nilsson (“All About Anna”) for her book “Porno statt PorNO” (“Porno instead of PorNO”), shares this point of view. She also criticizes the cinematic quality of the porn. Reason for that might be that the feminist porn was not naturally formed like other film genres. So, Lüdtke-Pilger cannot find a cinematic and artificial image language in the porn: “The feminist porn often communicates a stereotype image of the genders and tries to follow every feminist rule until desire disappears.”