- Hard-core Shopping:Educating Consumption in SIR Video Production's Lesbian Porn
Labeled "100% dyke produced," SIR (Sex, Indulgence and Rock N' Roll) Video Production's lesbian porn videos have been extremely successful on the gay and lesbian film festival circuit and in women-owned bookstores and sex toyshops.1 Like much of women's porn, both lesbian and straight, SIR videos are structured around a discourse of sex education, sexual health, and erotic empowerment. This discourse of sex education extends to the company's mission statement as well: "We change the way people fuck. Our mission is to make educational, enlightening, entertaining, and highly erotic videos that will provoke, inspire, arouse, and uplift people's attitudes and habits around sex and sexual health. We aim to make very sexy stuff that focuses on chemistry, dirty talk, and fantasy."
The most significant of these "changes" that SIR advocates is the integration of toys and pornography into sexual activity as a mode of achieving feminist empowerment. Sex toys and dildos figure prominently in the straight and lesbian sexualities portrayed by SIR Productions and are featured in nearly all of the sexual sequences in the company's first three videos. Dildos, of course, are not new to all-girl porn features, but what distinguishes SIR is the visibility of the sex toy retail industry, too. The relationship between SIR and the sex toy industry is not simply a matter of props. With the premiere of Sugar High Glitter City, SIR struck an exclusive distribution agreement with the Seattle-based national sex shop chain, Toys in Babeland, for the first two weeks of the video's release (AVN News). SIR also features commercials for Good Vibrations, the store that is Toys in Babeland's competitor, as well as for dildo manufacturers Vixen Creations on their tapes. They even use a retail store as the location for one of their videos.
Within the context of their mission and the broader genre of "porn as sex instruction" we might understand the erotic pleasures of SIR's videos as a component of their pedagogic function as both sexual education and consumer education. This education of desire is not limited to encouraging the purchase of sex toys but appropriates the conventions of commercial, mainstream porn toward the creation of a new audience of porn consumers, situating the marketplace as a location of queer identity production. SIR's videos actually thematize the consumption of pornographic video tapes and sex toys as tools of feminist empowerment and accoutrements of queer style. Indeed, this essay reads their videos as product demonstrations that address women as the primary purchasers of household goods, sexual accessories and pornographic videos included.
Since the 1972 crossover success of Deep Throat the porn industry has recognized women as an increasingly lucrative audience demographic, and producers, particularly female producers, have cultivated an alternative aesthetic designed to appeal to this specialty market. With its soft lighting, focus on narrative, and high production values, women's porn often appeals to the "continuing association of the ideology of the 'feminine' with the ideology of good taste, if not with 'fine art' itself" (Ross 172). These narratives have thematized women's porn spectatorship, teaching women how to enjoy its scopophilic pleasures by providing a "safe space" in which they might reclaim a sexual autonomy "without guilt or fear" (Williams 264). Structured around a discourse of sexual empowerment, the "education of desire" is more accurately understood as a cultivation of women as porn consumers. As Williams notes, the new attention to women by the porn industry "has not developed out of any altruistic spirit of democratic inclusion but rather strictly as a matter of capitalist [End Page 42] expansion. . . . The pornographic marketplace is now almost as eager to address women as desiring consumers as it once was to package them as objects of consumption" (230).
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