CHEEX – The Platform for Fair Porn
5 questions to Lina Bembe from the fair porn platform CHEEX about the pornography of the future.
Consumption of pornography has taken on a whole new dimension, becoming for many a regular part of everyday life. An incredible 35% of all internet traffic is pornographic in nature, and 25% of internet searches executed worldwide are for pornography*. While pornography is for the most part fictional and staged, studying the ways in which such material is culturally coded and socially engineered is revealing. Clearly, certain aspects of society find expression through the genre, although such expression constantly changes along with society itself. As behavioral and cultural researchers, we are intrigued by shifts in societal beliefs and narratives; such study supports human-centric innovation for increased marketing relevance in a world in transformation.
Ethical pornography has emerged from the sex-positive branch of feminism as a challenge to stereotyped gender roles transported by conventional and classic products of the porn industry. The sources of the content found on free-access platforms are often opaque, thus content provider CHEEX exclusively offers select pornographic video and audio material produced in accordance with specific guidelines. We spoke to sex education and liberation advocate Lina Bembe who has a broad background in the adult entertainment industry, to find out how porn can contribute to positive behavioral change in society.
Issues: #ethicalporn | #fairtradeporn | #culturalshift | #sexpositive
Lina Bembe is a Berlin-based adult entertainment performer and direc-tor, sex educator, intimacy co-ordinator and author. She has appeared in numerous porn pro-ductions ranging from mainstream to various stripes of feminist and DIY queer post-porn. She is often invited to write, speak or curate exhibitions on sex education and topics of feminism and culture with regard to explicit sexuality.
Adult Industry & Sexual Liberation Specialist of CHEEX
PLATFORM FOR FAIR PORN
The ethical and aesthetic porn revolution
CHEEX is a platform dedicated to promoting a new approach to sexuality as a natural part of human life. In addition to a free magazine and podcast, CHEEX subscribers get unlimited access to a library of erotic films, sexy audio stories and regular online workshops. CHEEX believes that a fulfilling sex life is essential for happiness and wants to help everyone achieve sexual libera-tion. That is why CHEEX depicts pleasurable, consensual intimacy in a very human, and therefore diverse, way.
CHEEX takes a socially responsible stand, exclusively offering porno-graphic content produced in accor-dance with fair labor standards. The subscription fee for unlimited access to all content is 14.90 euros/month; an annual subscrip-tion is offered for the equivalent of 9.90 euros/month, cancellable at any time.
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STURMundDRANG: Why does classic porn have such a bad reputation and doesn’t it generally appeal to women?
Lina: I believe that what we generally would call “classic” or conventional porn is viewed negatively in part because it is widely perceived as material that caters to the very specific fantasies of heterosexual, cis** men. Thus, obviously those who don’t belong to that audience tend to feel excluded, and may object to a perceived fetishizing of their own sexual orientation. The taboos around discussing explicit aspects of sex prohibit or at least inhibit talking candidly and frankly about the subject. Women and other groups who see themselves as typically misrepresented in regular porn have been active for some years now in making porn that reflects their own ideas of sexuality and desire. A prime example is the movie “Muse”, an original production by content provider CHEEX released last year, which foregrounds female desire and body esteem (Charlotte Kuhrt as Art Director).
Porn is in its essence a cultural production, and thus as such, it is an expression of the views and values held in certain quarters of society. Conventional porn reflects the sexism and to some extent the homophobia and racism characteristic of our society, which has understandably provoked opposition.
SuD: What would have to happen for consuming pornography to no longer be taboo?
Lina: People would have to be able to have exposure to open and honest talk about pornography. Ironically, porn is universally accessible, more or less, while accessing relevant factual information in a manner free of taboos is challenging. Porn should be discussed as part of general sex education, and such information should be available to all age groups. The current trend however is apparently going the other way, toward not talking about it, rather than facilitating a broad critical understanding of what pornography is and is not. Rather than educating on aspects that need to be changed, and how we can properly address the subject and deal with corresponding concerns.
SuD: The evolution of porn – What are emerging codes and narratives in feminist pornography?
Lina: There is unquestionably a break occurring with the way sex has been traditionally encoded to reflect cis/straight and patriarchal views regarding pleasure, sex acts and sexuality in general. There are many brands or flavors of feminism, of course, thus we speak of ‘feminisms’, and this affords an intriguing diversity in the ways sex/sexuality is understood and depicted. This diversity extends to different body types being deemed worthy of experiencing pleasure, differing ways of experiencing that pleasure, diverse narratives and stories and diverse aesthetics. Reflecting differing understandings of feminism in porn conveys a positive message that the possibilities for feeling attraction and desire are limited solely by the bounds of our imagination.
„Porn is in its essence a cultural production,
and thus as such, it is an expression of the views
and values held in certain quarters of society.“
– LINA BEMBE
SuD: In what ways do consumers of feminist pornography enjoy added value, and how does this relate to potential societal and behavioral changes for the better?
Lina: Value is definitely added in the way diversity in society is recognized and the opportunities are appreciated that diversity holds for experiencing sex in a way that is aligned with our identity, values and desires. Showing how stereotypes and narratives need to be viewed critically and changed also represents added value.
It is certainly beneficial for young people to become clear on the differences between fantasy and reality, and also for them to learn that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to sexual activity, sexual feelings, gender roles and gender identity – it is not about conformity. Sex education should include a kind of ‘porn literacy’ for demystifying pornography generally by addressing sexual health and safety while pointing out that access to unbiased information can help one enjoy pornography of a variety aligned with his or her sexuality, identity and desires – subject to proper age and maturity of course.
For adults, this can open up areas of sexuality and enable freeing gender role concepts that bring liberated pleasures which they may not have been able to access earlier in their lives. Porn can be a vehicle for self-discovery, as the opportunities for learning and evolving as a sexual being can grow in many ways throughout our lives, at any age.
„CHEEX Original productions
are all about creating
new views on and of sex.
The company’s slogan:
Exploring Sexual Desires Free
from Shame and Taboo –
Safe, Inclusive, Fair.“
– LINA BEMBE
SuD: What might progressive pornographic content look like twenty years from now?
Lina: I would like to see a future in which taboos around porn no longer have been done away with so that pornographic content becomes more diverse – as a permanent development. I really see that much progress has been made, there being a wealth of video content available today that is creative and diverse in terms of bodies and sexuality – and really hot too. Fair and transparent working conditions for performers and other industry workers should be intrinsic to progressive porn content, and age-appropriate controls should be in place governing the accessibility of such content. My idea of ‘progressive’ in this regard extends to what happens behind the camera, including giving consumers the information they need to make more educated choices in support of safety and other protective standards. A discerning audience is required if great progressive ideas for the industry, such as promoting diversity, are to become reality.
*Röttgerkamp: „Internet Pornografie – Zahlen, Statistiken, Fakten“ with further statistical sources in netzsieger.de from 16.05.2018
**Cisgender, short cis, refers to persons whose gender identity matches their sex as recorded in the birth register, which is usually judged by the visible physical sex characteristics of the newborn.
*** Muse Art Director: Charlotte Kuhrt
Images: Lina Bembe by ©Chris Nutt | Header Illustration by ©CHEEX | MUSE by ©CHEEX/Henny de la Motte | MUSE by CHEEX ©Charlotte Kuhrt | Lina Bembe by ©Lamia Karic | Illustrationgroup by ©CHEEX
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