Fashion

05.20.14

This Site Is Redefining Porn for Women

One Instagram entrepreneur claims women love porn just as much as men—their definition is just a little different. Welcome to Sarah Gidick’s new site, all about hot guys with manners.

With over 82,000 followers on Instagram, 31-year-old Sarah Gidick’s Porn For Women account has garnered a cult-like following of women who love hot men. Porn For Women, however, strays away from the typical preconceived notion of the explicit content beloved by the male species. There are no naked bodies (at least in the colloquial sense). There is no deeply erotic behavior. There is no awkward suggestive dialogue.

Why? Because that’s not what women want.

“If you Google the word porn, one of the first definitions now is a sensory reaction,” Gidick tells The Daily Beast. “At the end of the day, women and men are not turned on the same way—it’s just the reality of the situation. I acknowledge outliers. I understand that there are exceptions to every rule. But, I think that—I’m 31, and I’ve always had great girlfriends in my life. And they sound really happy nine times out of 10 when a guy is handsome and treats them well. The perfect package is what makes their head spin. I don’t get that kind of call when they’ve just had intercourse with a guy.”

And that’s why Gidick transformed her heavily-followed Instagram account into a full-blown site on May 13, simply dubbed, “a blog for women about hot men.”

The Instagram account made its debut in January 2013 with a photograph of John Hamm smoking a cigarette while cooking up fried eggs for a C magazine shoot. Next came sultry photos of Tom Ford and Aleksander Skarsgaard. Then appeared a series of black-and-white photos highlighting Paul Newman, Christian Bale, Sean Avery, and Rock Hudson. What started as a personal project of admiration for handsome men (and their underappreciated editorial shoots) quickly grew into yet another hashtag phenomenon.

“I was thinking of Instagram names for like two days,” Gidick explains. “Back then I was really into cooking, and I felt like there was so much food porn. It was so ridiculous. [There would be] a picture of French toast, and people would start freaking out. I figured, if I post hot guys, it’d be the same thing. Girls walk down the street, see a handsome man, and get that same ‘oh my god’ feeling. So I was like, OK, [these images are] just like porn.”

“It’s not so much about changing the definition of ‘porn’ per se, Gidick explains, as it is about reclaiming a portion of its meaning for women.”

But can these photos of Hollywood heartthrobs and images from Vanity Fair shoots really be considered porn? Our culture has only recognized one definition of the word, one that encompasses seemingly trashy, low-budget films produced predominately for males (and typically, as Gidick highlights, cringe-worthy for women). But why should it be so narrowly defined when social media monikers like #foodporn and #shoeporn are ever-present on the Web? It’s not so much about changing the definition of ‘porn’ per se, Gidick explains, as it is about reclaiming a portion of its meaning for women, the same way the aforementioned hashtags have for food and shoe lovers.

“I was [watching a video of] Gloria Steinem [on YouTube] talking about how we have to stop using the word ‘porn’; how it’s slavery to women; why we have to use the word ‘erotica,’” she says. “I was so on-board with her points, but I was like, this word isn’t really going to go anywhere, so if you don’t take a part of the definition of the word for yourself, it’s just going to keep making people feel bad…I think the word is really harsh, and if you make it lighter, it’s just better in the long run for people. I think that girls have to deal with a lot of things that are never really going to get addressed or change—and I think that women feel like the slightest sliver of empowerment by being involved in talking about men.”

After over a year of success, Gidick decided to make the leap into the blogosphere. Pivoting off the success of posting drop-dead-gorgeous photos of a shirtless Ryan Gosling or mysterious British heartthrob Tom Hardy (who Gidick says are two of the account’s most popular men, aside from vintage photos of Paul Newman because “he just can’t take a bad photo”), Gidick wants the new site to be smart. She wants to discuss topics like fashion and women’s issues with her audience and plans to organize and produce her own editorial shoots of men—be it friends-of-friends or longtime industry connections—who are cool, down-to-earth, and of course, ridiculously good looking. But most of all, she wants to create a platform like her idol, Martha Stewart’s—something that “[makes] people feel good.”

“You can put yourself into a shame spiral worrying about sounding lame about your dreams, or you can just own it,” she writes on the site. “I own it. I built a successful social media account applying [Stewart’s] principle of the gold standard to men. I thought about what was lacking for women and I have attempted to fill that void. Nothing too deep, just light hearted, good stuff for women. I launched this site today because I wanted to produce my own content and present great men to women.”