Thursday, December 22, 2011

A New Year's Resolve

I began last year working on my overly ambitious Slumber Party Massacre project, which took months to complete, required tracking down various outfits and scouting out different locations, and wasn't ready for exhibition until May. Actually, it was ready in April, but April saw my anticipated attendance of an anime convention, during which I cosplayed Chii in an extravagant (both elegant and skimpy) pink dress. Between posting my cosplay photos (in addition to myself, also the girls in cosplay I took pictures of at the con) and the Slumber Party Massacre photos (along with their Behind The Scenes entries right here on this blog - parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), I got massively behind and ended up with a backlog of photos to upload for the majority of the remainder of the year - which I have only recently gotten pretty much caught up on.

However, I have the sense that I am evolving as a photographer (and model), and I'm looking into better and more efficient ways to exhibit my photography to the world. I have seen, in my work, a distinct strain of material that has uncovered itself over the last year, which reflects the sort of erotic (or pornographic, if you will) photo sets that are produced commercially, that you can find all over the internet. This type of photography has always undoubtedly been a large inspiration on my own work - websites like femjoy and domai and met-art, and the erotic art they produce. But lately I've noticed that I've been producing distinct photo sets (as opposed to loose art) that mimic the sort of themed shoots you'll see elsewhere, usually with me dressed in some kind of outfit (either sexy or girly), stripping off my clothes and posing erotically for the camera in various stages of undress.

For a while now it's been my desire to have a website to feature these erotic photo sets (some of which have gone unpublished), but my unfortunate lack of webdev skills (I impressed my computer teachers in the '90s, but technology has come a long way since then) and total lack of experience as an economist or entrepreneur of any sort has left me high and dry. I've also been increasingly inspired to try to somehow make my artistic talent work for me, in terms of earning money for the greater and greater amount of effort I've been putting into my photography. I'll be straight with you - I hate capitalism, but I don't have any choice but to submit to it, as I don't have the skills to live off the land on my own. So I can absolutely sympathize with the desire to get things for free (and it pisses me off that my work as a photographer is not valued monetarily in the way that other types of work arbitrarily are), but I've come to the decision that to value myself and my art and the work that I put into it means to put a price on it. It's up to you to decide whether my work's good enough to pay for, but I simply can't afford to continue producing it for free. So I either have to start making some money off of it, or spend my time doing something else that's more profitable.

And that's where XTube comes in. For the longest time I was reluctant to embrace openly pornographic sites like XTube, not because I bear any ill will towards them at all, but simply because I don't like to surround myself with raw images of genitalia closeups and gushing bodily fluids. To me, eroticism is about beauty and nudity, not the sticky, sweaty, grunting mess that characterizes sex. So it's simply been a matter of taste. But there are very few sharing sites that cater to the middle ground of eroticism, and most non-porn sites don't even allow content that involves nudity (let alone blatantly sexualized nudity). Flickr is the one major exception I've found, in that they allow pornographic content, but are not characterized as a website by it. However, flickr offers no options for users to profit off of their own content (especially if it's pornographic, which is an attitude that persists all over the non-porn web - blogger included, unfortunately), and in fact they actively discourage using their site for that purpose. But XTube has its own Amateur program which makes it very easy for me to upload photo sets (or videos, if I choose), charge a small fee, and profit off of them if they're popular.

So, it's taken me some time to warm up to using, let alone associating myself with, a blatant porn site, but I've joined XTube and as of this week, I have signed up and become verified as an amateur model. Now it's a matter of producing lots of good content, and seeing if I can make any money off of it. I'd like to advertise here on blogger, but my reading of their content policy leads me to the conclusion that that wouldn't be allowed, and I don't want to risk deletion, as I've enjoyed using this blog to post lots of good content about my philosophical explorations on nudity, eroticism, and sexual liberation. However, I have registered two other accounts - on twitter, and on tumblr - that I intend to use to keep my followers up to date on the sets that go up on XTube, as well as other things of an erotic nature that pertain to me or happen to catch my interest. So I encourage you to check those accounts out, and follow me, and hopefully as I begin to fill my XTube account with lots of new material, you'll find something you like, that's worth spending a paltry percentage of the money you make from whatever work you spend your time doing for a living. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Exhibitionists "Hiding" Behind Nudism

I've kind of pulled back on calling myself a nudist lately. It's not because I'm any less supportive or enthusiastic about the activity of nudism, but I'm becoming increasingly jaded about the community of nudism, and its seemingly unhealthy obsession with sexual purity. Now, there are practical reasons for this obsession (which I've discussed before), but that still doesn't excuse their prudishness. To be clear, it's not that every nudist is a prude - in fact, there has always been a large subset of the nudist population that is very open to sexuality, which is a fact that prudists regret, because it supposedly tarnishes the clean, nonsexual image of nudism.

Make no mistake, nudism is not intrinsically related to sexuality, and is not a sexual activity. But if we, as nudists, were to be honest about our mantra of "normal, just naked", then we ought to understand that sex can be involved in nudism in the same way that sex is involved in people's textile lives outside the world of nudism, without it suggesting that the sex is an inherent part of the activity (whether nudist or textile - sex is just a part of life, and a big and important part too, that we ought not try so hard to extricate from our lives based on bullshit puritan values). No, the thing that bothers me is this wave of elitism, which is born of nudists' desire to keep nudism's image pure - so as to render it more acceptable to mainstream textile society. This elitism breeds the sort of attitude I detest, where the pure, nonsexual nudist is a "true" nudist, and a nudist who happens to be an exhibitionist or a swinger, or gets turned on by nude scenes in movies, or what have you, is a "fake", and worse yet, a traitor to the world of nudism.

I've said it before. I get that nudism is nonsexual. And I like that nudism is nonsexual. If nudism were about naked people getting together to have sex orgies, I wouldn't be interested in it. That's precisely why I'm not a swinger, and have no real interest in becoming one. I can enjoy nudity on a purely nonsexual level. But there's also that middle ground, where being naked outdoors and in public feels sexy, and might get me aroused - not to the point that I want to start boning someone, stroking myself, getting covered in disgusting bodily fluids, no! I just mean, on a sensory level, it can be a very enjoyable sensation both physically and psychologically. And trying too hard to take the eroticism out of that just defeats the fun of it.

I'm an exhibitionist. I'm a voyeur, too. I won't lie and tell you that it isn't exciting to be able to be naked in front of other people, strangers, in different places. I won't lie and tell you that it's not exciting to be able to see attractive people nude in similar situations (most nudists are not attractive to me, just like most people in the world are not attractive to me - but every once in awhile, you'll come across someone who's attractive, and it's that much more exciting if you have the opportunity to see them naked - that's the simple truth, void of any feeble attempts to deny biology and my feelings in the hope of winning brownie points with my pastor who preaches God's decree that Man be asexual, against our very natures - that's the very basis of my point about the truth of beauty - being honest, and sincere, regardless of the image you wish to project).

Problem is, most people have this idea in their head, the image of the exhibitionist, who stands there with a stupid smile on his face, staring at all the naked people, and the voyeur, who hides in the bushes or peeks over the fence, jerking himself off while spying on all the naked people. Few voyeurs and exhibitionists actually behave like this. Most of the peepers, anyway, are not dedicated voyeurs - they're probably just curious (and who can honestly blame them?). The real voyeurs and the real exhibitionists are probably already inside the club, and are probably already good friends with you. And there's a good chance you don't know that they're a voyeur or an exhibitionist, because they aren't cartoon caricatures, they're people.

Now a lot of people being faced with that fact might think, oh god, I'm being deceived and taken advantage of, something must be done! But that's ridiculous. Voyeurs and exhibitionists are not dangerous. They're not going to rape you or your kids - in fact, if they're really voyeurs and exhibitionists, that means they enjoy just watching, and not actively getting involved; and even apart from that, their interest in the eroticism of the naked sensory experience a) does not mean they are constantly horny, looking for sexual targets, and b) does not imply that they cannot also enjoy the true nudist appeal of being naked, that is to say, the myriad nonsexual reasons that nudity is enjoyable. It's true, that a person can (and even simultaneously) be both a nudist and a swinger, voyeur, or exhibitionist. Many nudists do acknowledge this fact, but from the elitist/prudist point of view, these nudists are "dirty" nudists, not true nudists, traitors and deceivers, bringing down the name of nudism, and hurting nudists everywhere. Well that's ridiculous.

Let's think critically for a moment. Naturally, there are going to be people in the world who are turned on by nudity. Whether this is something any one person thinks ought to be the case or not, those people are going to exist. Obviously, there are a lot of people who like sex, but I think it would be a specific kind of person who is attracted to the sort of not overtly sexual nudity that nudism celebrates. Anyone with half a brain could figure out after a little research that nudist resorts are not playgrounds for sex orgies, and if that's what they're looking for, then they're bound to start looking elsewhere once they figure this out. What about the people who are curious about the nudity? Is it our place to police people's thoughts, to place restrictions upon certain kinds of motivations? Or should we judge people based on their behavior and how they comport themselves? It's easy to kick out a person who's causing a disruption, and engaging in behaviors that are clearly frowned upon. If a person behaves impeccably, should it matter whether or not he thinks nudity can be sexually exciting?

What this world needs is the creation of the image of the polite pervert, the person who can enjoy the erotic stimulations that life sends us, without acting like the stereotypical pervert, making rude comments, harassing strangers, engaging in lewd behaviors in public. Ironically, the polite perverts go largely unnoticed, due to their great ability to control their perversion and not act out in stereotypically perverted ways. So they go ignored, and the public, seeing only the type of pervert who acts out, begins to associate perversion with acting out. Then, in their language and their policies, they begin to fight perversion when the original goal was to fight those disruptive behaviors. And the casualty is the polite pervert who does not engage in those disruptive behaviors, but who is nevertheless discriminated against in the language of the policies and attitudes that have adapted to treating perversion as if it were the causal factor triggering the sort of rude and lewd behaviors they want to abolish.

And so sex becomes an enemy, and people repress themselves, and we end up in this terrible state of affairs, overwhelmed by deception and hypocrisy, where everyone is absolutely obsessed with sex (more so because it's taboo), but too terrified to admit it because they don't want to be one of those obnoxious perverts that they and all their friends are constantly compelled to complain about (because that's the zeitgeist, and god forbid you should step out of line and refuse to conform to popular notions - then again, you've been raised with these erroneous beliefs, so you probably don't even realize how wrong you are).

It's quite a mess, isn't it? Well, I'm doing my best to right it by advocating for sexual liberation - the goal being not to induce sexual anarchy, but to encourage the polite perverts, the ones who are being overlooked, to admit to their perversion in the hope that in doing so, more people will be able to recognize that perversion doesn't have to be about indiscriminate sex orgies and all the "terrible" things god (and our politicians) warn us about.

And in the meantime, I see no reason to be alarmed by the fact that sex perverts are going to necessarily be attracted to nudism. As long as nudists continue to make it clear that nudism is not about having sex orgies, and that overtly sexual behaviors will not be permitted in nudist venues, that's all that really needs to be done. There's no point in fretting over the perverts who might have the wrong idea - they can be educated, and if this doesn't change their perverted feelings, then what more can you expect? You're never going to be able to force people to not be attracted to nudity, and you're never going to be able to stop perverts from having some interest in nudism, on account of the fact that nudity is so hard to come by in this puritan world. So you might as well stop worrying about it. You can't perfectly police the image of nudism, either - you will never get everyone in the world to have the "right" (according to your limited perspective) view of nudism, and you really shouldn't want to (think diversity), so you might as well stop losing sleep over it.

People will always be attracted to nudity. You can't change it or stop it. If that's the result that public acceptance of nudism requires, then you better think of a different strategy, because you're never going to get there. You might wonder what other strategy one could possibly have - well I've already got one. Ending the sex taboo. Prohibitionists and abolitionists (these people actually believe commercial sex work is a form of slavery) will try to convince you that embracing sex will initiate a rapid societal decline into a state akin to that of Sodom & Gomorrah. This is a lie. It's called propaganda. It's seductive because it's designed to be - it's designed to make you accept their goal (controlling sex). But it's not true.

The same argument is used about drug use, and all sorts of "vice crimes" that don't hurt anyone. Pretty much everything you've been told is wrong. Why do you trust the media and politicians? Why do you trust scientists and teachers without critically examining the evidence yourself? Everyone has an agenda, everyone stands to profit from getting other people to believe their lies. Even I do. But that's why I try so hard to emphasize skepticism, and honesty to combat hypocrisy. I don't want you to believe what I say, I just want you to consider the point of view that's being silenced. Because only after balancing the issue, and critically examining the two sides can you come to a balanced decision, and have a much greater chance of accepting what is true, instead of what is convenient (or what someone else is invested in having you believe).

Everywhere I go, I see chants of sex is bad, sex is dangerous, sex is dirty. So naturally, since I enjoy sex in a good, wholesome, healthy manner, I want to promote my perspective, which is quite contrary to the popular image, which encourages no end of discriminatory language and practices against those who engage in sex (who certainly, in most cases, don't view themselves in the same negative terms their opponents fling at them). What is your goal in this world? To make everyone else think the way you do? To force them to embrace your idea of what's good and what's evil, of what's valuable, and what's rubbish? To act and think like you? Do you want to control other people? Shame on you. My goal is freedom of choice - giving people the ability to choose to live their lives the way they want to - not the way you or the sheriff or the mayor or God wants.

Generalization is the enemy of individuality. And I caution you to avoid using it where you can. I feel guilty about using it myself against my opponents, but I'm dealing with people who hurt me and others like me, due to their narrow-mindedness. I don't think most of them are bad people, I could probably be friends with them given the chance. They might not even realize how hurtful the ideas they toss around are. But that's why I'm speaking out to raise awareness. Don't criticize people who don't live like you. Try to get to know them first - actually get to know them, not just research stereotypes and more generalizations. And in the meantime, refrain from judging them, just because they're not like you, and you maybe can't understand them through the lens of your own biased perspective (everyone has a biased perspective, even me - that's why it's important to put extra effort into being objective and thoughtful, and thinking before you speak). Not everyone has it in them to be a better kind of person, but if you do, you owe it to yourself and the rest of humanity to try.