Free Friday: Porn For Women, An Interview with Director Sally Fenaux Barleycorn

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Afro-European film director Sally Fenaux Barleycorn is part of an underground scene, a scene that’s getting ready to break through the pavement of the adult film industry, changing porn by visually portraying realistic sexual experiences that don’t degrade women.

These females are kissing goodbye to the predominantly chauvinistic content the top shelves, ‘babestations’ and websites you delete from your browsing history, are full of. For Barleycorn, this type of adult entertainment only portrays women as “saints or whores without brains, wishes and personalities,” leading to women being unaccepted if they don’t fit within those boxes.

Although the 30-year-old has been working behind the camera for eight years, she still feels like a newbie where porn is concerned: “I am just starting out and I’m learning a lot still.” Based in Barcelona, Barleycorn is working as a freelance assistant director while developing her writing and directing skills.

Her work explores deeper human consciousness through film. Skinhearts her first fiction piece, premiered in Amsterdam in 2015, portraying a world where humans can’t touch: “the impersonality of life in the Western world has become such that we have produced a race of untouchables.” Her obsession with light is what makes her work unique, using spotlights and angles contort the body, highlighting the cheekbone, shoulder or neckline.

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The director is also part of the social media campaign: the porn conversation. Started by Erika Lust, one of the adult industry’s leading female porn directors, it aims to educate kids on porn. Thanks to the world wide web, for the younger generation, porn is easier to find than a kit-kat in the sweets aisle in Tesco, Barleycorn believes the mainstream porn so readily available is a dangerous lie about what sex really is: “The first thing to pop will be the worst porn you can imagine, limiting their view of sex and the roles men and women have.”

porn erika lust

“I have been looking for the opportunity to turn my work as a director into something that could have an impact socially, to change porn is a great opportunity,” says Barleycorn. There is no escaping it, porn can be a hard topic to discuss (yes, we’ll excuse the pun), but women like Barleycorn are shaking things up, creating scenes where male pleasure isn’t the only aim of the game. “We should be more openly talking about sex. Stigma and shame can only work with secrecy and silence.”

 


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