Interview with Erika Lust - Ethical and Feminist Porn filmmaker

Content Warning: Explicit Sexual Wording.

If you have ever do any research at all about feminist porn, or ethical porn, you have heard the name of Erika Lust - the woman putting strong values and ethics into an industry that can be very damaging. The woman demonstrating that it is not about banning or demonising things, it is just about doing them right!

I am so happy to share more about her and her feminist opinions on the website!

And not only that, but also to give you a free month of access to their Else Cinema platform to get you started...

Who is Erika Lust? 

I am an indie erotic filmmaker creating sex positive adult cinema with relatable characters, realistic sex, and an ethical production process. With my on demand platformsXConfessions,Lust Cinema,Else Cinema, andThe Store by Erika Lust, I want to offer a more cinematic alternative to the mass produced free mainstream porn while with myLust Zine - the Uncensored Mag, guest writers and I cover everything related to sex, kink, sexuality, intimacy, filmmaking, feminism, and the adult industry. 

What is the biggest impact on what you do? What is the goal? The big vision of what you would like to achieve for Erika Lust Films?

Not only I advocate for more sex positivity in our society but I also strive to encourage people to change their perspective on porn consumption and the adult industry. I want people to understand that alternatives to the free tube sites exist and are worth our attention.People think that pornography is just this one big thing, but what most people aren’t aware about is that the porn industry is so many different things and is certainly not just the content that you can find on free tube sites such as Pornhub. 

We need to be critical about the porn we watch - who made it and under which working conditions?One of the most important beliefs that must become mainstream is that sex work is real work. People must become aware that how they choose to consume porn directly affects performers.By paying for your porn, you are contributing to the livelihoods of performers and their ability to do their job properly. You are helping to ensure that smaller studios that are committed to fair labour practices, are able to continue making the porn that they want to make and that sex work is done in a safe environment.

The issue is that people do not bring the same attention and level of consciousness to the type of pornography they consume as they do in other areas of our lives. So, they go to a tube site or they go to a search engine where they are then answered by the free tube sites, and a lot of the type of sex they will see is male-centric, creates unrealistic attitudes to sex, fails to represent the diversity of our bodies and desires, and consent is usually remarkably absent.

Most of the stereotypical mainstream pornography on the free tube sites represents a very biased and androcentric view of sex that completely disregards female pleasure. I decided to start making adult films almost 20 years ago because I wanted porn to change. I was tired of porn focused on athletic performance, stereotypical beauty standards, and emotionless storylines. I wanted to prove that we can represent sex in which women, men, and any other gender identities are treated as equal sexual collaborators, and that we can use porn to portray credible stories and characters that don’t follow tired stereotypes and gender based power imbalance. 

I want to give space to diverse desires, genders, ethnicities, abilities, ages, and ways to have sex without fetishising them. This allows the public to become receptive to the huge range of different sexualities that exist out there and need to be seen. 

What has been your biggest learning since you started?

During all these years, through theanonymous confessions I receive through my website, I've learned that women can enjoy all types of porn whether it's rough, soft, or anything in between. They want to see other women enjoying themselves and living proudly their sexuality, whether they fantasise about group sex, dominance/submission, threesomes, sex with a stranger, cyber sex, queer sex, infidelity, sex parties... They want to see adult movies that move away from traditional, restrictive beauty standards, outdated gender stereotypes, and tired sexist tropes to show how broad and varying both female and male sexuality can be. They want to see more context, authenticity, creativity, pleasure, and, above all, clear consent.

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And now our feminist questionnaire!

What is Feminism for you?

To me, feminism is all about fighting for real gender equality, in order to have women with relevant voices in social and political decisions as well as real agency in relationships and sex. There are still many gender-based biases to overcome, gaps to fill out and fundamental rights to fight for. I'm talking about pay gaps, period poverty, abortion rights, sex workers' rights, and the disvalue of women when it comes to listening to their stories of sexual abuse or physical violence. 

Feminism for me is also sisterhood. Supporting another woman's right to do whatever she wants — however different another's woman expression may be from yours. That includes sexual freedom, which is a basic human right. Women should be free to express and experience sexuality however they choose to do so. Societal pressures lead us to slut-shame ourselves and others for having regular, casual sex and, on the other hand, make us feel prudish for only wanting sex within a relationship and not engaging in broad ideas of “female sexual liberation”. My mission in life is to spread the joy of sex-positive feminism. I am advocating for female pleasure and have been working over the years to change porn, improve sex education and change unhealthy attitudes towards sex. 

Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?

Mansplaining - our society has always prioritised the male experience over the female, male entitlement exists everywhere, andmen have been abusing their positions of power for centuries. Everything has always been built following the (stereotypical)male vision and its ideals so when women reclaim their right to share their own perspectives (even more if related to sex and porn) they are easily shamed by some men who feel threatened and try to ‘put them back in their place’.

Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?

I grew up in Sweden which is one of the few countries in Europe that always prioritised gender and women’s issues. My mother has always been a fierce feminist and I had the advantage of very progressive sex education programmes at school. From the age of 12 we had sexologists experts who were specialised in sex education coming to school. They had honest conversations with us that were beyond the typical scaremongering found in most sex ed programmes. It was positive! We received all of the practical information about STIs and pregnancy, but they also taught us about consent and how to interact sexually with someone without having intercourse. However, as I grew up and left school I started to notice that society in general is very fearful of female sexual desire. 

Who is your biggest feminist role model?

I love Joey Soloway. The writer, director and producer always strived to represent more sexualities and genders in their work. 

Soloway's series ‘I Love Dick’ and ‘Transparent’ are powerful, diverse and push boundaries not often seen in television. ‘Transparent’ is one of the most important series in accurately and beautifully representing transgender with depth and emotion. The series tells the story of a father coming out as a trans woman to her family. But it's based entirely on the personal story of Soloway, which gives every episode unfathomable depth and emotion. 

Soloway's production process is incredibly inspiring to me and resonates with my own style. In 'Transparent they made sure the entire production crew was trans-inclusive and ‘I Love Dick’ was directed largely by women. Just as I have a mostly female film crew and post production team, Soloway ensures that people have a voice to tell their own stories and the power to take part in a discourse that concerns them. 

What is your proud feminist victory?

Having built a diverse (online & offline) growing community of sex-positive creators and artists from all around the world. Giving budgets to female and queer directors, performers, artists, and writers and giving them a platform to showcase their talent and perspectives on sex and intimacy. We are normalising having female, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC in all key positions behind the camera and I’m mesmerised by the incredible work all of these people are doing joining me in my mission to change porn from within.

What is your feminist recommendation?

  • Book:  'Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "Frenzy of the Visible"' by Linda Williams (1999).
  • tv show:I May Destroy You’ by Michaela Coel. 
  • Film:‘Promising Young Woman’ by Emerald Fennell

What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?

Ask yourself where the porn you watch comes from and if you can genuinely recognise equal pleasure and mutual consent in it. As in many other fields, consumers are ultimately a part of the porn industry. We need to bring ethics into porn consumption and change for the better our perception of sex workers' work and lives.


Starting to care about how the porn we watch is made and who are the people who make it, means making a necessary step towards fighting the piracy business model behind free porn sites and above all, validating sex work as real work. Sex workers deserve the same human and legal rights as anyone else. No more stigma, no more penalties, and no more dehumanisation. 

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If you want a free month from Else Cinema here is the link...

 

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