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World's first 'Porn Studies' journal explores feminist porn and most searched terms

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"Fair-trade, organic feminist porn" that shows "authentic female pleasures" is just one of the topics up for discussion in the world's first academic journal on the porn industry.

The aptly-named Porn Studies is a new quarterly journal published by Routledge and edited by UK-based professors Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith.

It aims to become the go-to authority on pornography and sexual representation, by tackling the meaning of sexually explicit material in contemporary culture.

"Porn is becoming an important part of increasing numbers of people’s lives, although what that means to them is something we still know very little about," the editors said. "The ways that porn is produced and distributed have undergone rapid, radical and incremental change, but much of the popular discussion about those changes is still based on guesswork."

Areas of study will include "the economic dimensions of porn production; the connections between mainstream film, cult cinema and sex-works; the dimensions of individual porn stardom; or the intersections between sexually explicit media and current social and political mores."

In the debut issue of Porn Studies out this week, the values of "fair-trade, organic feminist porn" are in the spotlight - as advocated by feminist porn trailblazer and author Tristan Taormino.

Taormino believes caring for her performers is one of the key aspects of this "fair-trade" genre of porn, along with presenting porn stars as "three-dimensional human beings". These qualities, she argues, are key in order to bring feminist values to mainstream straight porn for women and men.

Taormino also highlights the use of safe industry practices (such as a "No List" of performers that one performer refuses to work with), fair compensation and labour conditions and caring on set before, during and after the shooting.

The depiction of "authentic female pleasures" in porn is also important to it being feminist, as is the opportunity for performers to enact their own fantasies with the performers they have chosen.

Other chapters included in the first edition of Porn Studies include "Revisiting dirty looks," "Hard to swallow: Hard-core pornography on screen" and "Gonzo, trannys and teens - current trends in US adult content production."

In a fascinating paper about the use of tagging in porn, the research team found that "massage" and "Danish" are used across many different and more specific clusters of search terms online, including age ("milfs," "matures"), practices ("spanking", "facesitting") and context ("beach," "voyeur").

In another interesting piece, the journal identifies five ways in which fantasy and porn are connected. These are: as a magnifying glass (conscious desire), as a mirror to self (as a means of looking at our response to certain things), as an emporium (a world of possibilities), as a journey (a visit to distant realm of desire), and as an alternative self (what a person may or may not be).

So next time to feel the need to reflect on the true meaning and psychology behind porn, you know where to go. As the editors of Porn Studies say, "Many have already made up their minds as to its contents and its politics; we will either disappoint or confirm their second-guessing. [But] this the beginning, we hope, of new conversations, of new ways of conceptualizing the terrain ... We are here and hope to be here for some considerable time."

Read the debut edition of Porn Studies free online here.

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Rex Features

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