Dirty Diaries Manifesto – a positive feminist approach to pornography

It took me a while to realize that in addition to Alice Schwarzer’s PorNo campaign, there is also a positive feminist approach to pornography. Naturally, I took notice.

Whereby at this point another clarification of terms is probably necessary. Marc and I assume on our website that pornography is explicit depictions of sexuality for its own sake, ripped from its emotional, and psychological context.

This is based on our experiences with pornography: actors/actresses, as well as representation, is standardized; a frame story, if any, is present only in token function. The women are permanently willing, the men permanently hard. Correspondences with reality are purely coincidental and in no way intended.

We found the “Dirty Diaries Manifesto” by Swedish Mia Engberg, which she used in 2009 as the basis for a series of erotic short films she produced, comparable in its radicalism maybe to the Danish Dogma 95 manifesto. What’s interesting here is that Engberg’s feminist porn collection was primarily funded by the Swedish Film Institute, ultimately state-sponsored.

This manifesto shows a new, feminist approach to the explicit representation of sexuality. Mia Engberg articulates here what was floating unspokenly as an idea in the background for me when writing Erotic Diary of Marion F. I hope Mia doesn’t mind if I share this manifesto on this page and thus help it to a wider public. I do this because I think it is groundbreaking (and refer, because every artist needs money for survival and creative work, at this point again to the DVD with the 12 short films, Dirty Diaries (Region 2) [Sweden import])

Surprisingly, it wasn’t easy to find the original manifesto on the internet. The website where it was originally posted – dirtydiaries.org – was abandoned at some point, and the successor site – dirtydiariesfilms.com – merely contains a compilation of the taglines where the criticism of the patriarchal and capitalistic system is deleted without comment. As the source for that compilation at the end of a Swedish-language pdf entitled “Runkrullar och politik – Feministik pornografi: Intersektionella perspektiv och diskussion om begreppet“, which you can download from that website, there is a reference to the Swedish site dirtydiaries.se, which, however, at least in May 2022, when I wanted to revisit it, seemed to be hijacked and filled with advertisements. Only on Wikipedia I still found the original English-language version of the 10 taglines together with its short explanations:

The Dirty Diaries Manifesto

1. Beautiful the way we are

To hell with the sick beauty ideals! Deep self-hatred keeps a lot of women’s energy and creativity sapped. The energy that could be focused into exploring our own sexuality and power is being drained off into diets and cosmetics. Don’t let the commercial powers control your needs and desires.

2. Fight for your right to be horny

Male sexuality is seen as a force of nature that has to be satisfied at all costs while women’s sexuality is accepted only if it adapts to men’s needs. Be horny on your own terms.

3. A good girl is a bad girl

We are fed up with the cultural cliché that sexually active and independent women are either crazy or lesbian and therefore crazy. We want to see and make movies where Betty Blue, Ophelia and Thelma & Louise don’t have to die in the end.

4. Smash capitalism and patriarchy

The porn industry is sexist because we live in a patriarchal capitalist society. It makes profit out of people’s needs for sex and erotica and women get exploited in the process. To fight sexist porn you have to smash capitalism and patriarchy.

5. As nasty as we wanna be

Enjoy, take charge or let go. Say NO when you want, to be able to say YES when YOU want.

6. Legal and free abortion is a human right!

Everyone has the right to control their own body. Millions of women suffer from unwanted pregnancies and die from illegal abortions every year. Fuck the moral right for preaching against birth control and sex information.

7. Fight the real enemy!

Censorship cannot liberate sexuality. It is impossible to change the image of women’s sexuality if sexual images in themselves are taboo. Don’t attack women for displaying sex. Attack sexism for trying to control our sexuality.

8. Stay Queer

A lot of opposition to erotica is homophobic and even more transphobic. We don’t believe in the fight between the sexes but in the fight against sexes. Identify as any gender you want and make love to whoever you want. Sexuality is diverse.

9. Use Protection

“I’m not saying go out an’ do it, but if you do, strap it up before you smack it up.” (Missy Elliott)

10. Do it yourself

Erotica is good and we need it. We truly believe that it is possible to create an alternative to the mainstream porn industry by making sexy films we like.

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