Feminist porn festival challenges damaging sexual stereotypes, asking: “What would a sex-positive Birmingham look like?”

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This weekend, Bean Flicks, Birmingham’s first ethical feminist porn festival, will return after last year’s successful debut.

The festival is all about “celebrating women,” says organiser Dr Gemma Commane. Credit Bean Flicks/The VQ

The festival, being held in central Birmingham on Friday and Saturday, will feature a range of talks, performances and film screenings, aimed to explore and challenge mainstream attitudes around feminine sexuality.

There will be a line-up of sex and porn researchers, artists, performers, and activists – and even world-renowned dominatrix Mistress Tess.

The main aim of the event is to: “Create a space to talk about feminine sexuality and desire, outside of mainstream attitudes,” said one of the lead organisers, Dr Gemma Commane.

Dr Commane’s research covers ideas around sexual ethics – consent, diversity and equality – key topics Bean Flicks will address.

Last year’s debut was very popular – and it’s looking to be just as successful this year. Credit Bean Flicks/The VQ

This will be discussed in the context of mainstream porn – and the multi-billion-dollar porn industry. In 2019, Pornhub, the largest online porn site worldwide, received 42 billion visits – that’s 115 million per day.

However, the industry has been called into question for depicting an unrealistic, unequal image of sex and relationships.

“Traditionally, porn is centred around men – women are often bypassed in terms of sexual pleasure.”

Dr Gemma Commane

This echoes sentiment of a now-influential speech delivered at a TED event by speaker and consultant Cindy Gallop, in 2009.

Underlining the damaging impacts of hardcore pornography, she amassed over 2.5 million YouTube views:

“Hardcore porn is more freely and widely available on the internet than ever before […],” Gallop said. “There is an entire generation growing up that believes that what you see in hardcore pornography is the way you have sex.”

Dr Commane also recognised these potential long-term impacts of mainstream porn: “In later life, we will have damaged adults, who don’t understand diversity, and how sex really works.”

“That’s why we’re running Bean Flicks again. We’re asking: ‘what would a sex-positive Birmingham look like?’”

“We’re celebrating women, and we’re celebrating ethical porn, which challenges these depictions seen in mainstream pornography.”

Dr Gemma Commane

Professor of Gender and Sexuality, John Mercer, will be a guest speaker, alongside his collaborator Dr Charlie Sarson.

They will explore the idea of ‘ethical gay porn’ – asking questions of ‘whose porn?’, ‘whose decisions?’, and ‘whose ethics?’.

The event will feature many experts and specialists. Credit Bean Flicks/The VQ

“If there is an ethical dimension to porn – and I think there is – then those ethics hinge on asking these questions,” said Professor Mercer.

“We want to encourage people to think about sexual representation, and why it matters.”

Professor John Mercer

Dr Mercer reckoned the event, with a diverse group of speakers and an interesting programme, will be a big success.

For more information, or to buy tickets, click HERE.

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