Censored for centuries, our basic sexual needs when marketed, often takes the dominant narrative forward. We have been fed an ideal suggesting the need for force, non-consensual and ruthless domination of the other as the only basis for expressive desire, all the while excluding "non-traditional" forms of expression and bodies.
Somehow, our society has shifted from connection and free expression to the need to fit in and condition oneself to become as "normal" as one can get. Heterosexuality, now marketed as an ideal, was also once referenced as a slur. The "normal", the society chases, is far from attainment, for it too, is nothing but an average of human expressions.
Unfortunately, quenching one's desires has now been categorized as "Perversion", forcing people to box their expressions as acceptable or unacceptable, excluding masses of our population either by stigmatizing them or deeming their rights to pleasure as nonexistent.
"Pleasure activism is the work we do to reclaim our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts, delusions, and limitations of oppression and/or supremacy."- Adrienne Maree Brown
Although, our bodies have been scrutinized more than ever, we bravely march forward and reclaim our rights to pleasure, as we see fit. August 2023 witnessed 69 films presented by artists across the world at the SF Porn Film Festival, available online for a re-watch on Pink Label TV, the largest hosting site for Ethical Porn.
But what is Ethical Porn and why do we need to shift our focus to it?
Ethical Porn plays a major role in addressing this ideal form of expression of desires and bodies. While Mainstream educates the public that pleasure is a right attainable for a few, preferably the privileged classes of our society, Ethical encourages all individuals, irrespective of how they express themselves, to feel exuberant pleasure.
Taking back the shining torch of glory from those highlighted centurions, we now enter an age, where pleasure isn't at a pedestal, available to only those who fit the confines of the cages they were brought up in. Featured throughout the festival were kinks, fetishes and bodies of varying forms, consenting to the dopamine bursts of pleasure, to which they have a right.
We often hear of porn shaping kinks and fetishes. Very rarely do we hear of them empowering our innermost fantasies. The striking difference in these films was that in voicing several of our desires, they did not only make themselves highly relatable but also provided a platform for acceptance and normalcy to thrive.
Prevalent even today, is this notion that pleasure occurs only when partnered. Several individuals of our society, till date, feel guilty for even masturbating. It was a welcomed autoerotic fantasy of masturbating while WFH (Greek) or when on a tea break from work in the 70s (Italian). Eroticism thrives in confines. When society vilifies or boxes activities into undesirable categories, we see a surge in fantasies emerging from that Pandora's box.
We, at the festival witnessed several movies depicting writhing, sensual bodies in enumerable pleasurable contexts. From American cinematography depicting bonded bodies to kitchen sex, queer hanky code-based tale, a forest showcasing Period Sex and a blend of Sci-fi and porn; a Canadian Carrot bukake for the Easter bunny and thermal images of bodies engaged in sex; a Hungarian Comedic Striptease and Tango; a Germanic documentary of autoeroticism, energy-based arousals and lesbian orgy; we had seen it all.
Given a glimpse at numerous fantasies, kinks and fetishes, we definitely can't get enough. The reclamation of confidence in oneself, one's bodies, one's stride, one's expression and one's desires is taking ownership of what's owed.
Command the room you stride in,
Breathe the air: for it is yours to indulge in, Armored for the battleground within,
Your body, your desires: yours to believe in.
For that's a bet I am willing to place: comfort in knowing my desires are my own to experience, to live and to glorify the pleasures I've received.
P.S: My deepest gratitude and congratulations to all the Producers, Actors, Directors and their Crew for the production of highly artistic deliverance, as seen at the festival. I would also like to express my gratitude to the SFPFF organizers and PinkLabelTV for hosting this experience online for many to watch, even after the festival.