Filament: The Thinking Woman's Porn Magazine

Do sexy men and smart writing make for good reading? After spotting Filament magazine on my local newsstand - featuring the tagline "the thinking woman's crumpet" - I unwrapped what I thought was a new ladymag and, well, rediscovered porn.

*Warning: Images Below NSFW

Before the launch of Filament, now in its fourth issue, the Independent conducted an interview with the editor. Singh Singh quit her job to start Filament after leafing through thousands of magazine pages talking about makeup and diet tips, with little else:

"There are an awful lot of stereotypes about who women are and what turns them on, which I don't think are true," she says. "If you're not some walking stereotype of a woman – who really speaks to you?"

Singh then set-out to create a space for women to be both mentally and sexually stimulated - which flies in the face of all conventional knowledge about what turns women on. The FAQ section of the website - where Singh and crew directly confront naysayers - is full of hilarity.


How can you possibly use research to make porn?! I mean, it's so clinical!

You probably won't like our mag. It's more for women who embrace new ways of thinking and think that using your brain is hot.

What does 'the thinking woman's crumpet' mean?

A crumpet is a toasted bread snack popular in the UK and other commonwealth countries. 'Crumpet' is also a quaint colloquialism for 'an attractive person'. British humourist Frank Muir coined the phrase 'the thinking man's crumpet' to refer to an intelligent and attractive woman. Similarly 'the thinking woman's crumpet' describes an attractive and intelligent man.

Surely popularising erotic images of men legitimises degrading images of women?

‘Erotic' and ‘degrading' are polar opposites as far as we're concerned. It's natural to be attracted to viewing the human form erotically, and there is nothing inherently degrading about the subject being less clothed or more aroused. In conducting our research we've been heartened by the kinds of things women are asking to see, namely more erotic imagery that depicts the subject as a person, not a sex object. We're proud of catering to such twisted fancies.

Singh, for her part, had me from hello - her editor's letter, that is:

[T]he single most controversial thing about Filament isn't the cocks; it's that we have some content that isn't about sex. Our critics have honed in on this fact obsessively, bleating that there's nothing erotic about recipes or articles about population control. Many marketers, publishers and distributors have looked at me with pity as if - oh, silly me! - I'd slipped and accidentally dropped in an article about women and the games industry.

Plenty of men's magazines contain beautiful naked people and some articles that aren't sex related, but apply the same model to a women's magazine and it becomes, in the words of one distributor, 'confusing.' The people who decide what fills magazine racks are confused by the idea that women can be interested in perving on hot men as well as the big questions of society, like tolerance, or even little questions like, how do I bake a tea cake? The rest of us call this being human.

Indeed, why is it such a major revelation that women like to be visually stimulated? Though I often crack on Cosmo, one of the things I've always appreciated is that the magazine acknowledges that women want to oogle scantily clad men every now and again. And, according to current editor Kate White, the inclusion of more eye candy was a direct result of reader feedback. So why are so many ladymags so slow to catch up to the trend?

In addition to the professionally photographed guys who grace most of the pages, Filament has a "female gazing" section, where readers can submit pictures of the men in their life for other women's appreciation.

Content-wise, the most issue is a real grab bag. The first feature is dubbed "A Handy Guide to Japanese Rope Bondage" complete with a best practices guide and realistic looking models.

Filament: The Thinking Woman's Porn Magazine

Filament: The Thinking Woman's Porn Magazine

Following that, there's a piece on pornography through the ages, where it' revealed "we were making porn before we invented money, mathematics, or writing." Priorities! An interview with artist, pornographer and "eco-sex" advocate Annie Sprinkle provides lots of interesting gems:

Filament: The Thinking Woman's Porn Magazine

In 1981, when I directed Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle, which has just been re-released, I had to stick to the formula because the guy putting up the money was the distributor: I had to have the six sex scenes, one anal scene, one lesbian scene, one orgy scene. However, I still did the first female ejaculation scene in a film as far as anyone can ascertain, and I talked directly to the camera, which was pretty much unheard of. I also got to try out a lot of my conceptual ideas; for example, I did a scene where I go into an adult cinema and one of my films is playing on the screen, and I'm having sex with people in the cinema, and of course then people are watching that in a cinema. It became the second biggest grossing porn film in the US that year, which ultimately proved the distributors wrong. But I was still mostly playing by their rules.

Filament: The Thinking Woman's Porn Magazine

There's a lot of porn I don't necessarily like or identify with, but to me that's okay. Porn is a reflection of where people are at and what people like. I'd like to see more people in the art world experimenting with pornographic images. I love art. There are so many kinds of porn now, it's better to call it pornographies: plural.

When I showed my cervix to 40,000 people on stage with Public cervix announcement, it was a loving gesture; it wasn't about shocking people or turning people on, it was really 'I love my body and I love you, and let's take a look at where we come from!' It came from the heart.

I've been part of the movement for sex worker rights since 1975, and I really thought it would be decriminalized by now - it's still illegal everywhere in the US except for parts of Nevada. We cannot be a sex positive society until we have compassion for those who want to pay for erotic pleasure and not stigmatise those that want to offer sex for money.

Other major articles follow: including one on pop culture depictions of mental illness, penned by a woman with borderline personality disorder; a discussion on tolerance and cultural diversity opening with a Depeche Mode quote; a guide to gardening for women who are "cursed with a black thumb;" an interview with erotic photographer Cat O'Nine; an article on encouraging more women to enter the gaming industry as both players and creators; an illustrated guide to the art of the male-female-male threesome; a colorfully (read: teabagging visual gag) illustrated recipe for teacake; and three fiction pieces focusing on threesomes and fantasies.

The pictorials are varied, including one titled "By the Hour" depicting a for-pay transaction between a female client and a male sex worker.

Filament: The Thinking Woman's Porn Magazine

Interestingly, the models are named, and the photographer/model Conrad shares his thoughts and motivations in framing the shoot. This technique makes other appearances, including interviews with the "The Sound Guy" and "Drenched" models regarding their experiences and motivations.

Filament: The Thinking Woman's Porn Magazine

Unfortunately, while Filament editors do incorporate a little diversity in their models, their crumpets aren't really my cup of tea. The editorial taste skews toward guys who look like Alexander Skarsgård (or really, the entire cast of True Blood, including the anonymous vamps.) I've only gotten one issue, and seen previews of the other three, but the variation in men of color is pretty lacking. There are a few black guys in each issue (in this one, paired with white female partners or solo), one guy who appeared to be of mixed heritage, and no men of South or East Asian decent. Admittedly, Alexander Skarsgård is tasty, but really, do we want to deny ourselves all of this?

Filament: The Thinking Woman's Porn Magazine

Filament: The Thinking Woman's Porn Magazine

In addition, most of the female models featured were white, with the exception of one who presented as Latina.

Filament: The Thinking Woman's Porn Magazine

The magazine, while featuring the occasional guy on guy spread, is intended for heterosexual women. The FAQ notes:

Will you be publishing spreads of women in future?

We already publish spreads that include women with men - couple shots and the like - but it's very unlikely that we'll be featuring erotic pictorials of solo women in future. This is not because we don't realise that women sometimes find looking at other women erotic, but because many of our readers simply want a break from the many erotic images of women that they see everywhere, all the time. If you're looking for erotic images of men and women in the same place, try our friends Shot with Desire or Catnip magazine.

Is Filament a strong contender for regular reading rotation? Absolutely. The articles are well written, and the photography is gorgeous, even if the types of images depicted are outside of my usual type.

One downside: It's a little difficult to read in public.

Official Site [Filament Magazine]
Related: Can an ex-civil servant finally persuade women to buy erotica? [Independent]
Five Reasons I Love Cosmo [Feministe]