Saturday, April 30, 2011


It's hard to find girls expressing their sexuality, because girls are conditioned to repress their sexuality, lest they be labeled as sluts. You get gay men who are happy to revel in their sexuality, and straight men who are happy to direct willing women to play the part men fantasize, but where are the girls who are confident in their sexuality and unashamed to express it on their own terms? I see a whole lot of male-centered sexuality, and while I don't have any problem with that, it tends to leave a gap, and I'm curious to see what ought to be filling that gap.

I do hear people complaining about how porn degrades women, and that it's all about how men use women for their sexual purposes. I think that view is short-sighted, but to the extent that it might be true, the solution is not to silence men, but rather to empower women to speak up. We ought to encourage women to express their sexuality, and appreciate them for it, rather than telling them (directly, or through indirect behaviors) that they're being 'loose' with their sexuality when they do - effectively shaming them into silence.

I see it a lot - girls who appear to be discreetly exploring their sexuality, but in a restrained way that makes it easy for them to deny that that's what they're doing, and to maintain a stance of disgust and reproach when others respond to their expression in a way that reveals their hidden intent. It's the only way they can do it without being subjected to ridicule by their peers and the public at large. And while this may not always be their intent, this behavior nevertheless reinforces the sexual gender stereotypes - that men are horn dogs and women at best merely tolerate sex. And for these girls, it teaches them to be hypocritical about their feelings and desires.

Maybe it's true that women don't like sex, and that girls aren't interested in expressing themselves in these ways, and that's why I don't see it more often. But let's let them decide that, and on a case by case basis. To do that, we have to enable them to express themselves that way. We have to allow it to be an option, so that we can be confident that their decision reflects their true desires. And the only way to do that is to stop complaining or being insulted whenever a girl expresses herself in a sexual manner.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pleasure and Procreation

Sex seems to have two main purposes. The first is immediate, and that is pleasure. The second is procreation, which seems to be the overarching goal of sex, at least from an evolutionary perspective. The argument could be made that sex is pleasurable because that acts as an incentive for us to have it, which then results in a propagation of the species. In other words, we are driven to procreate (on account of sex feeling good) whether we are concerned about propagating the species or not. In a sense, we have been duped by evolution - except that, generally speaking, propagation of the species is also within our interest (although in most cases it's not as pressing a concern as wanting to feel good).

However, as an intelligent species, I believe it is within our natural rights to exercise some control over when and whether we procreate. Evolution may want us to procreate as often as possible, in the hope that an abundance of offspring will guarantee that some of it survives, and that the resulting diversity will improve the species' adaptability to changing environmental conditions. But evolution doesn't give a damn about the relative quality of life we each have, or even if any particular one of us survives (after all, it is in evolution's interest that the unfit be eliminated), and it doesn't care if it's convenient or not for us to have a dozen or more children to raise and take care of at any given time.

Yet, because of the way we're designed, we possess an extremely powerful desire to mate with individuals who are attractive to us. So, assuming that having as much sex as possible, and just letting the babies come as they will, is unacceptable, there are only two solutions. One is to abstain from having sex except in those cases where procreation is the goal. And the other is to use our intelligence to manipulate nature in order to have sex while preventing (or greatly reducing) the possibility of procreation. In essence, thwarting evolution.

Now, I don't agree that the first solution is tenable. There might be some, who have a low enough interest in sex, that it would work. And for them, that's fine. But it's not going to work for everyone. And this is where people with certain religious opinions sometimes get on my nerve. They say that the presence or absence of pregnancy after any given session of intercourse is god's will, and that to interfere with that is unacceptable. Well, fie on them. This is one case where I have absolutely no problem 'playing God' (or even just mucking with his already fucked up plan).

But the point of this is that there is nothing wrong with pursuing sex for pleasure, absent (or detached) of any interest in procreation. We are intelligent and advanced enough as a species that we can afford to do this. Admitting, acknowledging, and pursuing our biological interest in sex while simultaneously doffing the incentive to procreate is neither immoral, irresponsible, nor unconscionable. And I would like to see less shaming of people with a decidedly 'prurient' interest in sex. There is nothing criminal or antisocial about enjoying a good lay, and it is not degenerative to explore or celebrate the virtues of sexual discovery and exploration in discussion or entertainment or the arts.

The Whole World's Gone Mad, But The Solution's Not The Obvious Choice

"Public nudity is a crime, and yet pornography and hypersexual advertising is everywhere."

The pull of this statement relies on the assumption that nudity is benign, and that pornography and hypersexual advertising are bad things. Nudity can be benign, but it depends on context. The only thing wrong with hypersexual advertising is the fact that it's advertising, and advertising is inherently evil. But pornography - there is nothing wrong with pornography. Does pornography degrade one's ability to appreciate 'pure', nonsexual nudity? No.

My interest in pornography and sexuality hasn't eliminated my 'pure' and spiritual approach to nudity. As I said, the interpretation of nudity depends on context - but while sometimes it is erotic (and this is a good thing), there are other times when it is something wholly different. The point is, my appreciation of the erotic context has not eroded my appreciation of the other contexts. So no, you can't argue that pornography and hypersexual advertising is eroding our ability to contextualize nudity apart from sexuality. If anything, it is providing us with only one side of the issue. It is only giving us that one context. The solution (for restoring the 'pure' context) is not to eliminate the opposing (erotic) context, but to add more exposure to that missing context. In other words, make public nudity legal, without getting rid of pornography and hypersexual advertising. Who ever said we can only handle one context? We need education. We need to show people that nudity can be both erotic and pure (not necessarily at the same time, although maybe that too). That way, people can get nude unselfconsciously in the locker room (and hopefully elsewhere) without conjuring up their sexual shame (which itself needs to be worked on). Yet it does not rid them of their ability to view nudity in an erotic context, either, which would be an inhumane thing to deny a person of.

What about body image? People complain that attractive models make them feel inadequate. Should we not then seek to use attractive models? Should we use ugly models instead? This goes against the whole point of aesthetics. We choose models because they're attractive. I've argued this before, but the solution is not to ignore aesthetics, and pretend that some people don't look better than others.

I'm more attractive than some people, and less attractive than others. I value the fact that I am moderately attractive, yet I am frequently disappointed that I am not more attractive than I am. None of this ruins my life. Personally, I think I have a healthy body image. I don't trick myself into thinking that I'm the Elephant Man, nor do I trick myself into thinking that I'm Adonis. (Nor do I trick myself into thinking there isn't a difference between the two). The important thing is that I'm honest about my appearance, how others respond to it, and how I tend to react to it. And I don't use my feelings of inadequacy to attack people who are more attractive than I am.

Is there a solution for preventing people (especially women) from having a poor body image? Yes. The solution is obviously not bombarding them with images of nothing but impossibly gorgeous models. But neither is the solution to encourage their convictions that impossibly gorgeous models ought not to be appreciated for their beauty. Telling people that beauty is meaningless does not help their body image, because it's a lie. The goal is to come to terms with the fact that some people are prettier than others, and that you're not the prettiest girl in the world. And that's okay. How do we do this? We be honest about modeling. We tell girls that models are chosen for their aesthetic qualities, but that this is not the only thing that matters in life.

I don't know why this all seems so simple to me, because so many people seem to have trouble with it. Would the world really be a better place if beautiful people did not exist, and nobody ever had sex? Get real.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Porn Is Not Evil

The decline of modern society, or harmless fun?

I was researching the controversy over the alleged ubiquity of genital shaving in porn (something the above photo could certainly benefit from), in anticipation of some photos I intend to post in the near future, and I came across this really positive little article. It only briefly touches on some of the heavy topics regarding the porn industry, but I was very pleased with the insights and advice given by the legendary porn star, Nina Hartley, who was interviewed. The overall impression I get from reading the article is one that I stand firmly behind. Specifically, that a lot of the brouhaha about the evils of the porn industry is based on inaccurate stereotypes that are a result of moral assumptions made in the absence of actual consultation with those involved in the industry.

Now, I'm not so naive as to think that nobody in porn has ever been genuinely abused, or that porn hasn't been genuinely exploited for negative purposes, but the point is that, like in everything else, there is variety. There are people who are involved with porn who love it, who do not regret it, and do not have the lifetime of bad experiences they are assumed to have had. Now, unless you actually know someone personally who dabbles in the production side of pornography, I personally don't think you're in any position to make any informed (and thus meaningful) complaints about porn and what it does to people. And even if you do, and your experience bears out your concerns, that's still no reason to attack the people whose lives are not destroyed but brightened by being involved in the exciting and pleasurable realm of pornography.

I mean, just think about it. If porn does bad things to people, why not focus on those bad things? Why target porn indiscriminately? It might be easier that way, but it's not the right thing to do, and it just causes more pain and suffering in the long run, because in the process of trying to help people who are being hurt, you're hurting a bunch of people who were just fine before you began interfering in their lives.

And I'd wager that far more people are harmed by the social stigma surrounding porn than by the "sin" of engaging in carnal pleasures. Especially considering that the 'natural' harms of sex - which might include transmission of disease and unwanted pregnancies - are not reduced by prudist preaching, but are rather exacerbated by imposed ignorance and systematic shaming.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Have you seen (or heard about) that viral video featuring the couple having sex on a subway train in Vienna? I only just recently found out about it myself. I wouldn't normally bring it up, since talking about it puts me in a tight spot: if I decried it I would be lying, but if I were to be honest and say that I support public sex, a lot of people would probably think bad things about me. (Oops :p)

Honestly, I don't see the big deal. Public sex is like everything else - you can do it in a way that's rude and clearly bothers other people, or you can do it in a way that's courteous and mindful of the public space you're in. Assuming, of course, that the act of seeing two people having sex isn't going to kill anyone. And I don't care how appalled you might be, nobody's going to get hurt beyond a little minor offense - nothing you can't turn your head from. And speaking of minors, there's no reason why viewing sex should traumatize a kid any more than watching somebody go to the bathroom or anything else - it might be something better left unseen, but it's a fact of life and witnessing it isn't going to kill anyone.

Anyhow, I read this other article that so badly exaggerated the 'shock effect' of the video, that I had to make a comment. The author describes it as "very graphic" when, after viewing it myself, my first thought was, "geez, you can't see a thing." In all seriousness, a professional wrestling match is more graphic than this video. You see more skin at a public swimming pool than you see in this video - and that's assuming that all the girls wear one piece swimsuits and all the guys wear board shorts.

There's no need to exaggerate, why not tell the truth? It's a video of two people having sex. But it's not graphic. I would rate it PG-13 at the most - and not because of what you can see, but merely because the motion is 'suggestive' of sexual intercourse. You unfortunately can't see any more of the girl than her knees. If I was having sex on a subway, in front of an audience, I'd at least make a good show of it, and we'd both be naked from head to toe.

But I'll admit I did feel slightly uncomfortable about all the people crowding around with their video phones. It's not that I have anything against the act being recorded - in fact I support that sort of thing, and hey, that's one of the risks of doing it in public. It's just, they acted like paparazzi or something. Can you not maintain some shred of decency, even in your excitement to record a live public sex session? I was, however, impressed at how 'professional' the couple was, who barely reacted to the presence of the videographers. Perhaps we could all learn a thing or two from them. ;-)