Happy International Fisting Day!
You ready for a monster post? Well grab your lube, lay back, and relax. It’s late on Thursday night and I’m typing this out at one of my favorite bars, El Rio. San Francisco just felt it’s second earthquake today. It makes me shiver thinking about the fragility of our lives, the great divides between the earth and our existence. And then, you know, there’s fisting. Crossing my fingers the ground below my feet withhold a mighty quake, let’s get this blog going.
Not too long ago, I was chatting with my friend and fellow pornographer Courtney Trouble, about her recent film LiveSexShow, which is a fundraiser for the Center for Sex and Culture filmed during the non-profit’s annual Masturbate-a-Thon. I performed with Nina Hartley, for an audience of pleasure activists. And the chemistry was high with me and Nina, and we jumped into each other, and we had a grand time, and during that time, her fingers and then her whole hand went inside my cunt. And then I came for the crowd and for myself, and for my friend holding a video camera for the world to see.
At least, we hope the world could see.
For as long as I’ve done porn, distribution companies and retailers have banned the act of fisting in the films I’ve been in. It feels like it’s always been this way, but that’s not true. It’s only been a little over a decade.
Anti-porn movements, in particular the administrations which coincide with them, have had a bone to pick against pornography. For obvious reasons, I’m pro-porn, sex-positive, and a firm advocate of consensual, ethical, and artistic erotic imagery. For the circles I run in, the act of making porn is a brave, powerful, and righteous thing. We’re representing marginalized communities, taking power through creating our own images of desire. As my friend Shine Louise Houston infamously says, that as a queer woman of color, it’s especially important for her to create her own sexual images. And I completely and passionately, agree. Explicitly demonstrating our pleasure shows authenticity that rivals anything shown of queers in Hollywood films and brings examples of healthy sexuality that have long been denied in sex education classes. Safer sex? Check. Communication? Check. Equal gender agency, you bet. Lube? Right here.
Since 2005, I’ve been appearing in porn for DVD distribution that I knew would not include fisting, one of my favorite sex acts. Even my very first porn scene with my lover at the time, Syd Blakovich. It didn’t make sense that fisting couldn’t be shown, but I tossed it up to it being the fact that porn is marketed and driven by a lot of assumptions about what sells, what sex should look like, what the people who have sex should look like, yada, yada, yada. Basically all the reasons why I knew I was doing something important.
But wait, why is fisting so important? What do I like about it? Ask me? Okay, here’s some actual questions I’ve had, about fisting:
Why is fisting important to you?
My first experiences with hand sex, where my body took in the entire fist of a lover, happened around a time of galactic sexual exploration. I was in my early twenties and it was mind-blowing. The orgasms were intense and I was in an open relationship and was dating a lot of people so it was exciting for me to have sex with friends and teach them how to fist me, to fist others, and to really enjoy practicing sex in a safe way and to experience this with lovers of all kinds of genders and sexual orientations. It was so much fun. Fisting is about being really present and in your body, and ready for a good time.
Why do you love fisting?
What I love about fisting someone vaginally is feeling them take me in. There’s an moment where the person just opens up to you. Once inside, they’re so warm, wet, and every little movement you make can be felt. It’s something that may take time. Fisting is something that doesn’t necessarily happen right away. You put a finger in. Then two. Then three, four, and then… and sometimes after long gentle coaxing, the thumb. Sometimes lovers can try several times in sex before fisting happens. But once you’ve got it, it’s golden! You can angle your hand for G-Spot stimulation. You can find your lovers’ “A Spot”, which is just under the cervix and some like to feel a bit of pressure there. You can carefully stroke and “jerk-off” the cervix, as if it were a small, internal cock. Unlike using a strap-on or dildo toy, my hand can feel every motion. It’s incredibly intimate and really sexy. If the chemistry and connection with my partner is strong, can literally come from penetrating someone with my hand!
As someone who loves to receive a fist, what I enjoy about it is an unparalleled feeling of fullness. The most sensitive areas of the vagina are just within the first few inches inside the vagina, which is where I like to use my kegel and pelvic muscles to grip snugly around a lovers’ wrist, which can be compared to the girth of a medium-large dildo. Deeper inside, pressure feels good for me. I like to rock my hips against a lovers’ hand, or hold very still and squeeze hard, creating a game where I try to hold their hand tightly in place as they move against me. I do my kegel exercises and am pretty strong so I have a lot of control over my vaginal muscles and can make myself very tight, or, allow myself to stretch open. Or pulse between the two extremes. Combining clitoral and vaginal stimulation, the network of nerves and contracting of muscles orchestrate some of the most amazingly intense orgasms I’ve had.
What do you say to people who think it’s dangerous or scary?
Some people think fisting is intense in a bad way — that it hurts. But anyone who loves fisting knows that it can be the most intimate and beautifully connecting experience with a lover. Or a really fun in a three-some — I’ve held the hand, fingers locked, with a lover while the two of us have fisted a friend. I’ve also had both my fists inside two different lovers at the same time, while they kissed intensely. I’ve 69’ed with fisting, and I’ve even fisted myself!
Fisting isn’t any more scary than any kind of unwelcome sexual advance. However many people don’t know that much about it. We learn about sex as only being penis-vagina intercourse. But sex is so much more! We don’t learn much about sexual anatomy, how to communicate with lovers, or about pleasure. In fact, when we see a fist, we may be more inclined to think of it punching someone in the face because we see images of violence more common and at a younger age than we do sex. (ie: Cartoons show characters throwing punches and shooting guns, yet wont show even a bare breast.) In “This Film Will Not Be Rated”, we see the MPAA approve violent scenes with more leniency than they do sex scenes, especially ones featuring female pleasure. So when we as a culture are more familiar with a fist being used to harm someone, it’s no wonder that someone who hasn’t had a healthy sex-positive education about fisting would assume it is painful. In our culture we see fists as painful weapons, when I see them as revolutionary weapons of sex-positive progress. Or, you know, the ASL symbol for the letter “E”. See? That’s not so scary. 🙂
What’s your experience with fisting?
Personal love of the topic aside, my work in adult has primarily featured fisting. In fact, I fist in my films more often than I’ve worn a strap-on. This may come as a surprise to many DVD buyers, who would never see the act as it’s been edited or angled out of the scenes, with the exception of online website content for queer porn sites. And with the exception of Courtney Trouble’s new film “LiveSexShow” where I am fisting by Nina Hartley. I’ve also performed as a demo model for Fisting Demonstrations in adult classes such as Reid Mihalko’s Iron Slut: Sex Educator Showdown! and have taught it as a guest lecturer on sex ed at colleges and universities. I am also a contributor in “The Official Book of Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll Lists”, where I give my Top Five Songs about fisting.
So there you go. And while it’s not the first time I knew fisting couldn’t be shown in a hardcopy DVD, this year it was the first time I’ve heard of fisting being banned by a Video on Demand (VOD) company due to fisting. And here’s where some background comes into play. Because: WHY is it okay to show fisting ONLINE, but not in a hard copy DVD?
Well. Here’s what I know.
DVD distributors, retailers, and porn producers, are afraid to SELL porn if it means they might be charged with an obscenity. To date, some men are in jail or have had court orders for showing “obscene” content, such as John Stagliano and Seymore Butts. This content includes female ejaculation, enemas, and in 2001, fisting. The charges in the case of fisting were dropped with an plea bargain for a meager $1,000 fine. However this scared distributors because since that date, at least in terms of the companies who have distributed my films, fisting was NOT to be shown. If fisting was present, footage was edited out if it was visible, or left in if the camera angle was such that you couldn’t tell fisting was occurring. Why fisting?
Fisting is on the Cambria List of sex acts not allowed for inclusion in content meant for physical distribution.
On January 18th, 2001, Adult Video News reported on the so-called “Cambria List.” Paul Cambria, a longtime attorney for the porn industry, was involved in the list’s preparation. The list is controversial within the industry and interpretations differ on how it was meant to be applied. Some in the industry say it represents guidelines for the box-covers of adult videos, not for the sex acts they depict. Nevertheless, there is wide agreement that the Cambria List shows how the adult industry is seeking to be more careful, fearing a potential crackdown on pornography by the Bush Administration.
The Cambria List:
Box-Cover Guidelines/Movie Production Guidelines
Before selecting a chrome please check facial expression. Do not use any shots that depict any unhappiness or pain.
Do not include any of the following:
- No shots with appearance of pain or degradation
- No facials (bodyshots are OK if shot is not nasty)
- No bukakke
- No spitting or saliva mouth to mouth
- No food used as sex object
- No peeing unless in a natural setting, e.g., field, roadside
- No coffins
- No blindfolds
- No wax dripping
- No two dicks in/near one mouth
- No shot of stretching pussy
- No fisting
- No squirting
- No bondage-type toys or gear unless very light
- No girls sharing same dildo (in mouth or pussy)
- Toys are OK if shot is not nasty
- No hands from 2 different people fingering same girl
- No male/male penetration
- No transsexuals
- No bi-sex
- No degrading dialogue, e.g., “Suck this cock, bitch” while slapping her face with a penis
- No menstruation topics
- No in-cest topics
- No forced sex, rape themes, etc.
- No black men-white women themes
Several things are not on this list and several things are on this list which should never have been. I mean, WTF?!
I emailed Queery Bradshaw, who has a legal background and she confirmed what I expected about the legal aspects behind several porn obscenity trials when they come to bringing visibility to marginalized sexual practices. Particularly in terms of freedom of expression. She wrote back:
It’s a double edged sword because the more a topic, scene or act becomes mainstream, the least likely it is going to be considered obscene against the community standard. But, if you’re constantly censored for fear of being prosecuted, you can’t make those acts known or common place. I know authors that have had fisting (or the mention of sex at all even) censored out of their beautiful non-erotic literary works of art. People are afraid and the only way to stop that fear is to talk about it, but you don’t know if you talk about it if you’re going to be prosecuted. And that is why I totally agree with you Jiz that this is completely and totally a free speech censorship issue and that we need to talk about how healthy it is so people stop seeing fisting as this thing that people do to degrade and dishonor another (which is justification often for censoring anything).
Despite this go-to list, there’s more info to know about pornography and obscenity, which is the Miller Test, which courts have gone to in efforts to determine what might be obscene when there’s no written rule. Here’s Constance Penley talking about obscenity and pornography. (Constance is a co-editor of the upcoming “Feminist Porn Anthology” which will be made available to the gender studies classes to colleges and universities world-wide.)
The Miller test was developed in the 1973 case Miller v. California. It has three parts:
- Whether “the average person, applying contemporary community standards”, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,
- Whether the work depicts/describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law,
- Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
The work is considered obscene only if all three conditions are satisfied.
The first points are up to the standards of the community. What community? Whatever applies! That’s what makes it vague. The last one in particular is held up to whatever is reasonable to a person of the United States as a whole. The Miller Test is basically the reason why it’s okay to have more freedom of sexuality online, while less on physical DVDs. While there are many areas in the United States where it is illegal to mail pornography, it’s more difficult to determine online community. This is especially true for queers who at least in my case have found community online. To further prove my point, many queers think fisting is completely normal. (If not just normal, it’s amazing!)
If I had a dime for every time I’ve given a talk and had people give me a confused “WTF?” look when I brought up the fact that fisting was banned from DVDs “Why? What’s wrong with fisting?” I would have enough money to pay my way into congress and provide adequate (queer and kink friendly) education to every citizen in the US so that people will understand pleasure and sex-positivity.
So here we are.
I’ve fisted in much of my films and online content. In fact, I think I’ve fisted more times than I’ve squirted or even worn a strap-on. It’s that common. While I have been somewhat unfortunately hesitant to fist on film because I know about the ban, I also have the liberation with companies who have web content because I know they wont have to edit it out. I also know that film crews can film a “soft” shot of the action if they so please. It’s something I’ve dealt with for a while now, and because I know that the way we consume porn is changing and going more and more to the internet so eventually fisting will reign.
Imagine my surprise when I heard that Courtney’s film submitted for VOD was denied because of the scene. Not VOD! The internet is supposed to be okay with fisting, because it’s my community who likes to see it. That’s what prompted our Fisting Day. We have to let people know more about fisting. Why it’s supposedly banned, why it’s awesome if they’ve never thought about it before. Why it’s okay, even political, to love fisting.