Dirty Diaries: Sexy, State Supported, Artistic, Feminist Porn

“Skin”

Dirty Diaries (2009) is a collection of twelve feminist porn films produced by Swedish Mia Engberg with substantial state support amounting to approximately eighty thousand dollars from the Swedish Film Institute. Contributing to the DVD are artists and filmmakers whom Engberg invited to make their own feminist porn film, most of them shot with a high-quality cell phone camera.

“Skin”

I have already discussed one of the Dirty Diaries short films here. Another of my favorites is “Skin” by Elin Magnusson (b. 1982). The film features a man and a woman in bed; both dressed in beige bodysuits that cover at first literally all of them. The film begins slowly, with a finger lingering on a crotch seam before following it, along the curves of a body. And then they kiss, through their suits, touching themselves and each other as we hear the faint sound of their smacks. Soon, she pulls on his hard cock that protrudes beneath his suit; there are wet spots on it around the top of his penis and lower abdomen. He presses his tongue out and makes licking movements towards her pussy. She does the same to his cock. Finds a scissor; cuts an opening for her mouth so she can actually lick the area of his penis. Cuts a whole for her eyes. And an opening by his neck; she teases a hand inside. Kisses the skin of his chest, down along his abdomen.

“Skin”

Light crescendo in the music follows; giddy joy. He cuts a hole for his mouth and another for her pussy; licks it. Pulls a condom on two of his fingers; fingers her. The camera captures his fingers and tongue by her pussy closely to the sounds of their licks, kisses, — and now joyous drumbeats. Impatiently they pull their bodysuits off each other, their bodies intact, no cuts. They continue with strokes, licks, kisses, and fingering, before she lies down on her back on top of him with his penis between her thighs. And then she helps it inside of her. They kiss and the picture fills with their genitals. The music turns into a more quiet melody with notes of anticipation; body against body, inside of body.

Together, the twelve short films cover a broad range of sexual intimacies and experiences, both heterosexual with women in charge and lesbian. One film circles in on the anus as an opening for connection; another moves dreamily through nondescript sensual images as it rejects the harsh gynecological explicitness of mainstream porn. Among the other short films are some that explore bondage; domination and submission; fisting; sexual flashing; and purchasing sex services online, — all captured with a feminist edge.

Mia Engberg interviewed

The Dirty Diaries DVD is accompanied by a booklet where the editors comment on their films. In the booklet’s foreword, “What is feminist porn, Engberg writes about the challenges that confront women who want to make their own kind of porn. Firstly: is there a female gaze opposed to the male gaze that has defined women’s sexuality throughout history, and if so, what does it see? And secondly: how do we liberate our sexual fantasies from the commercial images that bombard us every day. The short films on Dirty Diaries convey different interpretations of what “feminist porn is, concludes Engberg, because there can be no simple definition of it. Interviewed she points out that another significant difference between her project and mainstream porn is the financial circumstances: in Dirty Diaries all the involved share equally the project’s profit; “so that a guy doesn’t earn a lot of money on the body of someone else, usually a woman. With respect to the films’ content and style she also feels that the directors have done their utmost to create something non-commercial and non-exploitative of women.

Elaborating, Engberg explains that she and the contributors to Dirty Diaries wanted to make an artistically interesting film that could also be sexually arousing. But a weakness in my opinion with a couple of the films is that they become too artistically self-conscious to retain the full ability to sexually arouse. Others fail to arouse as they get stuck in anger, deriding men and mainstream porn. But some of the films are incredibly sexy. And even though some of them may portray a form of sex that’s not exactly my cup of tea, I am moved by their raw, sexy feel. These films are valuable as well for how they contribute to including and affirming a sexual plurality.  

Dirty Diaries received an Honorable Mention at the Feminist Porn Awards in 2010. Said the jury: “this film is diverse, edgy and an important contribution to the Feminist Porn canon. It is also a truly promising indicator of what can come about when individual artistic ambition and public state support come together.

(This post is an excerpt from my book After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters, forthcoming fall 2012.)

Quizzical Mama

Quizzical mama, aka Anne G. Sabo, PhD, is a former academic turned public educator, author, speaker, freelance writer, and mama- and sex blogger. Her book After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters (Zer0 Books, October 2012) has been called “a goldmine for all sex-positive women and men,” and a “candid, well-informed personal story of how a good girl became involved in porn." She writes mores about progressive porn and sex-positivity in her New porn by women blog and at her resource site Love, Sex, and Family, and she muses about life and parenting in her Quizzical mama blog. She lives in Northfield, Minnesota, a small college town just south of the Twin Cities, with her spouse and their preschooler daughter. You can follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @quizzicalmama.

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