Porn for Straight Women?

Despite the growth of porn for (heterosexual) couples and for queer women, it seems like there’s still fairly little that’s produced for heterosexual women. So when I got an email from Fangirl about exactly this topic, I knew that I had to interview her.

Tell us a bit about the patterns you see in erotica and porn for women.

Erotica and porn for women is a pretty broad category, since the sexual preferences of women vary widely. Let’s narrow it down to erotica and porn for women who identify as heterosexual.

The vast majority of what is offered to straight women is written erotica – stories and books that are printed words only. No visuals are generally included with the written erotica except for the book covers, which usually picture a woman.


There are a few good producers, many of them women themselves, who make erotic and pornographic movies targeted for heterosexual women and couples. Additionally, I have found a handful of web sites that offer a variety of quality visual and written erotic content for pay. There is also Filament, a UK-based erotic magazine for straight and bi-sexual women that has been in business since 2009.

Aside from these few exceptions, visual images of men or couples presented for the viewing pleasure of women are shockingly rare. Sex web sites are a dime a dozen, but there is what I call a ‘naked-chic normative-ness’ to what I dub the ‘sex-o-sphere.’ Unless one includes web sites created by gay men, 99% of the visual images shown are of women, and only about 1% are of men. I find this reality to be very limiting and disappointing.

I also find it puzzling. The phrase ‘sex-positive feminist’ has been bandied about for decades now. I have always considered myself a ‘sex-positive feminist’, but am beginning to wonder what the phrase really means. In my erotica and porn, there are pictures hot men! Yet, many other self-identified ‘sex-positive’ women seem to assume that women are not interested in looking at men at all. Women everywhere are writing erotica, discussing sex online, offering advice, reviewing sex toys, discussing body image, teaching burlesque and pole-dancing classes, etc. These are all great things! Nevertheless, it all leaves me wondering: Is that all there is? Where are all the men?

What are some of the reasons that there’s more written erotica geared towards women than photos or movies? Why don’t websites have more photos to offer?

I really wish I knew! Clearly, written erotica is popular, but the few producers who offer visual content for straight women (at a much higher price!) have also been successful. I tend to blame patriarchal attitudes for the lack of visuals. This is the reason I am questioning the meaning of the phrase ‘sex-positive feminist.’ Why would ‘feminists’ make the stereotypical assumption that women don’t like to look at men? When looking at the ‘sex-o-sphere,’ it appears many women are making this false assumption. This is why I constantly ask web sites that deal with sexuality issues to offer sexy man photos. I don’t want them to ever say “well, no one ever asks for these visuals…there is no demand…” There is demand, and I started speaking out on this topic because I felt it was important to make my desires known.

What sorts of visual erotica do you think straight women want?

Our tastes certainly vary, but I think an appreciation for tall and handsome men is pretty universal among women. I’ve never met a woman who didn’t find Hugh Jackman or George Clooney sexy. Part of the problem is that no one ever asks women what we think is hot. For example, several magazines make ‘Hot 100’ lists of the ‘sexiest’ celebrity women. There are also LGBT media outlets that create ‘Hot 100’ lists for gays and lesbians. One finds no such list of men created by straight women. I’ve read tons of magazines over the years, but Filament was the only one that ever bothered to ask me what I found sexy in men.

If you google sexy men photos, you get some hits. Not as many as if you’re looking for sexy photos of women, but some. Why aren’t there more?

Patriarchal attitudes are at play. Women, especially young women who fit conventional beauty standards, are constantly being asked to take their clothes off. Notice that whenever a new starlet appears on the scene, she is always asked to pose in sexy photos for a magazine, and often does. I can’t even think of any young female celebrities who haven’t been photographed provocatively. It is also true that stripping, dancing or posing for a sexy photo are ways that women are invited to express their sexuality. I do think this can be empowering for some women, especially women who have dealt with body image issues. Men should do this more. Remember that great film The Full Monty?

Have you spoken with other women about this? What do they say?

My friends and I would all love to see more man-flesh! One friend told me she does prefer written erotica, but she also likes looking at pictures and videos too. Another friend and I went searching for a picture-book full of sexy men. We had to go to a gay bookstore to find anything. But, once there, we found plenty to choose from. The books were of solo men, not gay sex. Some of the men pictured were professional athletes who were presumably straight. I bought her one of these books for her birthday. It would be nice to see these books in places other than gay shops. I have also connected with some women online who feel the same way I do.

What do you think keeps more photographers or producers from making these sorts of images available?

I have seen Filament’s editor remark that there are very few women who photograph men erotically. Reading about Filament’s struggle to get distribution or be stocked in ‘women-friendly’ sex shops is quite revealing. I think it shows how incredibly widespread the resistance to the hetero-female gaze really is. It also demonstrates that even our ‘sex-positive’ sex culture may be much more limiting than many would like to think.

I occasionally find sexy (albeit of the more PG-13 variety) photos of men in mainstream magazines, so there are definitely some images out there. People need to use them more, and women need to speak up and ask for them. We have centuries of patriarchal attitudes to overcome!

What do think the reasons are that sexual images of men are consistently labeled as gay? How would sexual images of men for straight women be different from images for gay men? Would it matter?

When all images of men are classified as ‘gay,’ sexist attitudes are at work. I like to call B.S. on this when I see it. Interestingly, many gay men themselves definitely ‘get’ that women also like to look at men! There are a handful of web sites that I frequent that have been created by gay men but that also welcome female lurkers. Oddly, I often feel more validated by these sites than I do in the completely non-visual or ‘naked-chic normative’ sites that are recommended for women.

As far as how images for straight women would be different from images for gay men, this is a topic that definitely merits much discussion. I think there may be some overlap as well as some differences in what we like, but it is hard to say without further discussion. What matters is that both gay men and straight women are allowed to look and lust – that we are both given avenues to express our sexual selves. I think we all owe a lot to the queer community. These are people who have risked so much just to be who they are – to be open about their sexuality. In the end, this freedom to be our sexual selves benefits everyone!

If you’d like to see lots of photos of sexy guys, check out Fangirl’s blog or follow her on twitter at @fangirlswoons

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Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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