Review: Violet Blue’s A Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn October 20, 2009
Book by Violet Blue
Publisher: Cleis Press Inc.
Buy from EdenFantasys
As some of you know, I am an abuse survivor with PTSD. As such, I have found it very difficult to watch, let alone enjoy, a lot of mainstream heterosexual porn. So up until now I’ve been avoiding porn. Really avoiding. Recently, though, I said to myself, “Self, there’s a LOT of porn out there. There has to be SOMETHING I can watch without it triggering a panic attack or flashback.” Having convinced myself of this, it was clear to me that the big question was how to find porn I’d be comfortable watching.
I asked people on Twitter for their opinions, but none of them can really know what my boundaries are, what I can or cannot watch. So I needed some more guidance. I came across Violet Blue’s A Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn on Edenfantasys and thought it might be helpful for me, so I requested it for review.
I have to say that, for someone like me, this is a fantastic little book. It’s clearly geared towards n00bs like myself (although the target audience is clearly not sex toy reviewers: she spends a good part of the beginning assuring readers it’s OK to enjoy porn). She defines a lot of industry-specific terminology (a huge relief for me, since I knew very little of the terminology going into this). There’s also a lot of discussion about the history of porn, which I found extremely interesting. (Did you know that Hungary is the European porn capitol? I sure didn’t.)
Her basic premise is that in order to build a porn collection you’re happy with, you have to a) do some soul searching and figure out exactly what it is you want to watch, b) try a bunch of different stuff and prepare to watch a few duds that aren’t going to do it for you in the course of your search, and c) always be willing to fast forward through things you don’t like.
Among the interesting and useful things you will find in this book:
Good starting points for searches (since every reader will have different search criteria, Violet Blue can only really lead you to the start of your search)
“Safer-sex” practices for your computer (although I’m a Mac user, so this was less crucial for me)
Pep-talks for getting the most out of brick-and-mortar store visits
Links to online review communities (participating can help you find what you want once you’ve narrowed down your own criteria)
A fantastic list of resources compiled in the back of the book (I was especially interested in the list of Netflix-like services for porn)
Violet Blue is extremely up front about the gender-role reinforcement and the homophobia in a lot of mainstream porn, so you know what you’re getting into. She discusses issues in the industry from a feminist perspective. She also breaks down the structure of the industry, explaining the relationship of the AVN and indie porn to the entire industry. There’s a lot of really good information here that can help you figure out where you are in relationship to all the porn that’s out there.
The upshot: this book is extremely encouraging for the uninitiated. It gives you good jumping-off points to begin your search. It’s well-written in a very conversational style (and short! It took me about two hours to read the whole thing). For people new to porn, unsure where to start, this is an excellent resource. I could totally see giving it as a gift for the right person. If you have experience with porn at all, though, the information in the book might be a little basic. But for me, it was a great read. I’ll be jumping into my porn search with Violet Blue’s expert help!