LIFESTYLE
03/07/2018 10:01 BST | Updated 10/07/2018 08:43 BST

Friday Night Flicks: This Feminist Porn Festival Has Something For Everyone

'We want to show where women can get good porn.'

Ever fancied spending Friday evening watching seven porn films in a row? How about in a room surrounded by 99 other people, including your own mother? While everyone is entitled to personal kinks, that probably doesn’t sound like most people’s ideal start the weekend. 

But the hosts of a new feminist erotic film festival, ‘Bean Flicks’ are hoping to challenge our stereotypical British awkwardness and aversion to talking about desire in public. And they’re inviting you to bring everyone and anyone – including your parents –  to the event on 6 July.

As most porn is made by men, for men, “it tends to focus on penetration not pleasure,” says Dr Keeley Abbott from Birmingham City University, explaining what prompted her to organise the festival. “It’s through the male gaze, but all humans have desire.”

Dr Keeley Abbott researches sex education and sexual health at Birmingham City University.

Abbott, who researches sex education and sexual health, has been working on the event with colleagues Dr Annalise Weckesser and Dr Gemma Commane, who are also specialists in the field of female sexuality and media.

The trio – who also run a women’s pop-up called the Vagina Quotient, which offers access to information about sexual health and wellbeing – say they are tired of the mainstream narrative around sex being catered towards one gender. 

“Men in our society are seen as being sexually active, having an uncontrollable sexual appetite, and women are just shown as either passive gatekeepers to that, or as totally hyper-sexualised,” says Abbott, who spends lots of her research time speaking to teenagers about their relationships.

Mockingbird Cinema
Mockingbird Cinema, in Birmingham, where 'Bean Flicks' will be hosted on 6 July.

“When I go into schools and do a lot of interviews with young girls there is very much a focus on one particular sex act, I see a rise in pressure for girls to do different sex acts and look like the women do in pornography,” adds Abbott.

The festival, showing at the Mockingbird Cinema, Birmingham, will try to counteract the one-dimensional approach of much of the existing porn industry. It’s an attempt to show attendees that porn has something for everyone - not just men. Because to look at offerings on the world’s most popular porn sites, you probably wouldn’t know that. 

The event will start with a panel discussion, before a showcase of seven short films with examples of kink, bondage and queer films, it will also give people of colour a stage too.

“Hopefully we have a little something in there for everyone. This isn’t just porn created by women for women, but also about ethical production standards, consent and fair payment for performers,” Abbott adds.

A lack of diversity and failure to show different kinds of pleasure has a real-life impact on people’s sex lives, Abbott argues. “Research shows young women are having very risqué sex that they regret and don’t find enjoyable, and are being pressured into performing sex acts that their male partners have seen in traditional porn,” she says.

A recent report by Public Health England found that 42% of women aged 25 to 34 years old say they do not enjoy sex or have a “lack of sexual enjoyment”.

Women are having very risqué sex that they regret and don’t find enjoyable...'

Women are, however, already starting to demand better. There’s been an increase in searches with the term ‘porn for women’, Abbott says – although that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are actually finding what they’re looking for.

“So that is what we are trying to do here; give women that access and celebrate it,” she says. “We want women to go home and not feel guilty about watching porn, but also not to watch the same porn they always have.” 

So what can people expect when they turn up on Friday? Abbott pauses: “We are just demystifying these issues in a safe space. It is going to be a fun and silly atmosphere, but we want to make sure we are very much promoting where women can get good porn.” 

Maybe you can bring your mum afterall. 

Tickets for ‘Bean Flicks’, Birmingham’s first feminist porn event, are available here.

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