You didn’t expect that choice of book, did you? You didn’t expect anyone talking about it? That’s exactly why we are doing it. And also, why it was written in the first place.

Women on Porn: One Hundred Stories. One Vital Conversation.

The fact that Vera-Gray hoped to get a few women’s testimonies and got hundreds of responses, out of which she chose one hundred for in-depth interviews, shows that there is something to talk about.

When you think of porn, you almost want to start humming James Brown’s This is a Man’s World. But it’s not. And actually, if you listen to the lyrics, you will find it goes on with “but it wouldn’t be noting without a woman or a girl”. Quite fitting I would say.

In this book, Vera-Gray looks at the porn industry, how women are represented in it, how we navigate it, how it’s labelled (is women’s porn for women, by women, or with women in it? And if it is for us, is that what we want?), what attracts us to it and what repulses us (yes, that’s definitely the word).

Women on Porn

And while it’s an interesting start, in my opinion that’s only the beginning. The real conversation is listening to the 100 women talk about their experiences and notice how little we talk about things. While women are generally known to share and chat, porn is not part of the conversation.

Actually, you will find parallels between your experiences and these women, be it the first time you were exposed to it, with friends or by coming across something at home, your reaction, the feelings upon seeing it. Even the decades are very different, between women who grew up with the internet and those who found books on their parents’ bookshelves – somewhere in there, something will resonate with you.

But there’s also very obvious issues in the industry: Violence is an entire chapter of its own, and a recurring topic is how women are treated and portrayed on mainstream sites aimed mostly at men. But also showing unrealistic expectations of sex, which some generations grow up with as their only example of what it should be.

It’s not a feel-good beach reach, but it’s a book I recommend you read, even in a few sittings. Full disclosure: I skipped a few pages within the violence chapter because it wasn’t for me, and I had read enough for the point to get across. So, it won’t always be comfortable, but it’s a conversation we need to have. Not only to notice that we are not alone in those feelings and experiences, but also to have an awareness of how others feel or use it. As a survey showed, parents are unaware of how old their children are when they first come across it (girls in particular, of course) and therefore can’t react.

Women on Porn by Fiona Vera-Gray was published on the 8th of February 2024 by Torva. ISBN-13‏:‎ 978-1911709442

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