How Porn’s Female Directors Are Putting Hollywood to Shame

No matter which male-dominated industry women have infiltrated, we’ve all encountered some version of this.

Much like mainstream media, the adult entertainment industry can be particularly patronizing toward the women behind the camera, not just in front of it. To make things even more difficult, women weren’t typically seen as porn producers capable of creating a product palatable to men, historically considered porn’s “primary” consumer. Since the 80’s, when porn star turned director Candida Royalle broke ground, setting a precedent for female-produced content, numerous women have chipped away at those stereotypes. Unfortunately their work hasn’t always been recognized.

Nominations for the annual XBIZ and AVN Awards—essentially considered the Golden Globes and Oscars of porn, respectively—Director of the Year categories have been male-dominated fields despite the growing number of women pornographers. On average, women account for less than 20 percent of the nominated directors over the past decade. Fortunately, that’s about to change.

Given the recent nominations, 2019 might just be the year of women in porn. Eight of the fifteen XBIZ Director of the Year – Feature nominees are well-known and widely-respected women within the industry. Additionally, the same can be said for nearly half of AVN’s 2019 nominees for best director. Hollywood, by contrast, has only nominated five women for the Best Director Oscar in its entire history, with just one emerging victorious: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.

Whereas women looking to perform in front of the camera encounter few barriers to entry, the same cannot be said for those interested in producing and directing (excluding the DIY model, where technically anyone with a smart phone can direct porn and sell his or her own content online). Building fame and credibility as a female performer before launching into directing and producing is a fairly standard—and widely accepted—business model, and is quite different from the typical male trajectory, as plenty of male directors have never been performers, or only became performers after the fact.

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