Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sexual Predation

The prevalence of the term 'sexual predator' in modern parlance, thanks in no small part to the proliferation of sensationalist news stories (frequently told from a sexually conservative perspective), has become problematic.

It is true that there may be such a thing as 'sex crime', which is to say, crime that involves either the sex act, or a sexual motivation - most likely referring to rape; that is, a person having sex with another person against that other person's consent, that may or may not involve physical violence beyond the simple act of being 'penetrated' against one's will (although not necessarily against one's bodily construction).

I am not attempting to minimize the seriousness of the crime of rape, I am merely trying to approach the issue rationally. The problem is that, married to certain extremist views within certain camps of feminism - the radical sort that believes "all sex is rape" - we come to a point where the basic mating behaviors that occur naturally between men and women are being reinterpreted as a form of predation.

Now, classically speaking, predation is an act of feeding - literally. The predator captures the prey, often involving violence, kills the prey, and then eats it. What part of this gruesome process suggests sex to you? I am willing to concede that the 'hunting' of victims that a rapist engages in is a predatory sort of process, but we must be able to separate the sex criminal from the basic sexual urges we all experience.

When a man experiences sexual desire for a female, and even, perhaps, receives some sexual pleasure from the sight of that female, or from fantasies he indulges in about that female, he is not engaging in any sort of 'predation'. When a man pleasures himself to pornographic images of women on the internet, he is not 'preying' on females, he is merely attending to his sexual functions. When a man observes women 'in the wild' (that is to say, in public), and even as he evaluates their sexual desirability in the privacy of his own mind, he is not acting as a predator but merely as a member of a species of sexual organisms.

We must be extra careful not to let language creep infest our own understanding of human sexuality, and not to allow our morbid fascination with news stories about sexual predators infect our faith that the basic mating rituals between the sexes can be free of intrinsically violent and predatory underpinnings.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Public Privacy

Let me put this into crystal clear terms. If I walk out into a public space, you have - in my interpretation of law and freedom, but not necessarily those whose interpretation matters - the right to photograph me in a non-intimidating, non-obtrusive way, to jerk off to that photograph in the privacy of your own home, and to share that photo with others - even in a public, but non-commercial manner (such as on internet forums), and even if those others also jerk off to that photo in the privacy of their own homes.

The photo does not legally constitute pornography, as it does not depict explicit sexual activity (as such is not legal to engage in within any public space I know of - otherwise, it is my opinion that by engaging in an activity while in a public space, you waive any right to privacy you would have had had that activity been engaged in while in private), and therefore my consent (or lack thereof) to be featured in that photograph is of no consequence (other than to basic politeness, which is not legally enforcible).

I extend to you this right, which I believe you hold even without my volunteering it, and I expect exactly the same consideration in return (barring the inevitable disagreement from legal authorities). It makes no difference what sex, race, age, or nationality you or I are. This is not a matter of one class wielding power over another, but of all classes being equally beholden to the rights and freedoms granted to the public, while in public, in the interest of free speech.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

5 Myths About Porn

Following are five myths about porn that are far too frequently cited by those who wish to censor it.

1. Porn is produced by a corrupt industry.

While this may at times be true, it is a claim whose proof requires specific evidence based on research, and not simply accusations based on anecdote. And anyway, in any other industry, hints of corruption would spark public outcry for reform, not for prohibition. Nevertheless, more and more porn these days is being created by independent entrepreneurs (and philanthropists), as the popularity of amateur porn on the net can attest to.

2. Porn is degrading to women.

Never mind the fact that there is feminist porn and gay (male) porn - the latter of which doesn't even feature women. The issue of "objectification" is even more thorny because it is based on a foundation of misdirected truths and outright lies. So-called "objectification" is just one part of the normal and complicated process whereby one person experiences sexual desire for another (which is, in and of itself, harmless).

3. Porn is harmful to children.

Not any more harmful than the explicit gore and glorified ultraviolence we gleefully feed children these days - and, possibly, considerably less so. Honestly, I'd rather a child learn the process by which life is created than that by which life can be snuffed out. And as much as "teen pregnancy" is considered to be a social illness (which, in terms of metaphorical diseases, is about as prevalent - and resilient - throughout human history as mortality), it is nothing compared to the tragedy of school shootings.

4. All porn is violent.

While this is certainly true for some porn (though I don't subscribe to the belief that violent media creates violent persons), it is but a niche among the rich diversity of material available. Justifying this claim requires an absurd belief that sex is intrinsically a violent act, usually interpreted as a male committing violence against a female, which comes from the "all sex is rape" school of fundamentalist feminism that I would have thought by now had been widely discredited as a crackpot theory.

5. Porn is unrealistic.

I don't believe there is any reason why we shouldn't approach sex - as we do with everything else in the creative arts - with a sense of fantasy and performance. Nevertheless, there is such a thing as "documentary pornography", and it frequently goes by the name of "sex tapes".

Until would-be censors start arguing about different types of visual or audiovisual (I don't know why writing gets a free pass) depictions of sex (which they may or may not refer to as "porn"), in terms of what does and does not deserve to be censored, then you will know that their arguments are not only inaccurate, but insincere as well. But people who believe that sex belongs behind closed doors for the sake of their own fragile sensibilities rarely have the integrity to admit it. For doing so would seriously undermine their claim that, somehow, this censorship doesn't violate their alleged (but phony) support of free speech.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Feminism and Sexual Empowerment

As a post-feminist, I am both a staunch supporter of women's rights and the equality of the sexes, and critical of various non-humanist strains of feminism. One of feminism's blunders that I cannot forgive is propagating the myth that female sexual empowerment (a woman taking control of her sexuality) in a way that caters to male sexual desire is - instead of a natural part of mating ritual - an insidious influence of the male patriarchy.

Thus, female actors and characters in the media who incite male lust through their image or their deeds are not positive feminist role models, but icons of women's 'prison of sexuality'. Unfortunately, this attitude is rampantly sex-negative, and whatever progress it might inspire in the realm of female empowerment (in the non-sexual realms), it achieves at the cost of further maiming our already diseased and demented views of human sexuality and relations between the sexes.

Now I believe, as somebody who generally believes in the good - if seriously flawed - nature of humanity, that this view comes from a place of genuine concern. Namely, the pressure that is placed on women to be sexual agents and only sexual agents in the social sphere. I get that. A woman should not necessarily be judged solely or even primarily by her sex appeal, to the marginalization if not total exclusion of all other aspects of her personality.

But. The solution isn't to wipe sex totally out of the equation. We should encourage women to be more than sexual agents, and acknowledge them when they make accomplishments of a non-sexual nature, and above all, treat them like human beings and not single-minded sex objects, and with equal status and potential as any male. But while we're doing this, we have to also be careful not to criticize women for wielding their sexual agency, otherwise we're limiting women's options and not treating them humanistically like they have their own will and can make their own decisions.

Especially when flaunting a woman's sex appeal has the common affect of rendering males subservient. How can that not be feminist at its core? It becomes patriarchal when we look at common responses and criticisms of the woman who freely wields her sexuality. Slut-shaming, for example, is massively anti-feminist. What is it about psychologically or even physically abusing a woman for expressing her sexuality that speaks to women's rights and empowerment? Victim-blaming, also, is a symptom of the patriarchy.

Consider this hypothetical. A woman decks herself out in a really slutty outfit and heads to a bar to attract male attention. This is basic preening behavior. Nothing about the basic fact of relations between the sexes indicates a necessary imbalance of power or influence. Now say that the girl, in the process of expressing her sexuality, doesn't find what she considers a suitable mate. But a man decides to rape her anyway. This is patriarchy in action - a man denying the woman's choice.

Now the story makes it to the news and what happens? The woman is shamed for dressing like a slut in the first place, and people say she deserved to be raped because she was 'preening' without being willing to give it up. In casual parlance, she was a cocktease. But this view depends heavily on the idea that women exist, as objects, to sate male lust - when and where it is incited - as if it is their duty and responsibility to please males, and to hell with what the female wants. That's patriarchy, folks.

So, I believe that women - girls, especially - should be given the opportunity to do everything and anything with their life - just as much as boys are. Whether that's to become a doctor, a scientist, a mother, or a stripper. Maybe we put too much pressure on girls to be sexy. Maybe. But there's nothing wrong with that alone. The problem is in the balance. So instead of shaming the sexuality angle - which only harms females and reinforces the paternalistic impulse, we ought to merely add other options to what's already available, and focus instead on cutting out our own disparaging treatment of women who make their own choices - no matter what those choices are.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shameless Pornography

In spite of what I say about the value of erotic art over that of pornography (which I do believe), I do still sometimes produce pictures that could only be described as "shameless pornography". But there are good reasons for this.

It's partly because, yes, I am an exhibitionist, and I do get something of a sexual thrill out of being exposed to the world. But it's also because, despite my preference for erotic art, I still believe that pornography is an important and defensible medium.

I want to prove through my deeds (and not just my words), that I am okay with pornography, and also that a person who involves himself in pornography is not irrevocably stained, but can still be capable of great and noble things like the art that I also produce.

When I say that I like erotic art better than pornography, I am not attempting to denigrate pornography like most people - and I am willing to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, by 'denigrating' myself (as the anti-porn crowd would say) as the subject of pornography.

I've seen other artists take a different approach where they swear they'll never do porn, and say it like it proves they have some kind of honor, but all I see is a person trying to belittle a popular mode of expression that so many others engage in. And I won't be a part of that.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Reflecting on Narcissism

To write my interest in my own reflection off purely as narcissism is short-sighted. While I do, generally, like what I see, there is more to it than that.

Whatever the cause - introversion, social anxiety, pure curiosity - I have an interest in knowing how I appear to others. I have a strong desire to view myself in the third person. Not just because I like looking at myself, but because I am overly concerned (yes, I admit that) with how I present myself, and I want to be able to put myself into the minds of those who observe me from a perspective that I - trapped inside my own body - am not privy to.

How do I look? From a distance? How would I react if I saw someone looking exactly like myself? What would I think? What would I feel? Can I change my appearance or mannerisms in any way to change other people's reactions for the better? These are all questions that plague me constantly, and even more so when I am dressed unusually and in the midst of a crowd.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sexy Art

If you call something sexy "art", porn detractors will cry out that you're making an excuse for it. But there really is such a thing as erotic art, and equating it with pornography simply because part of its appeal is erotic in nature does a grave disservice to that art form.

How can you say that something sexy can't be artistic, and can't have quality above and beyond the trashiest level of pornography? Why is it worthless solely because it's erotic, regardless of its other merits (and lack of demerits)?

Unless you're against sex itself. And if you're against sex, you're against me.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Problematic Desires

There are certain things I fantasize about sometimes that even I will admit are disgusting outside the context of those fantasies. But I have no desire to enact them in real life, nor do I feel ashamed of having those fantasies. It's all part of the complex mechanism of sexual arousal.

In my mind, there are no turn-ons that are "just plain wrong". There are just some with more complications than others. But if you can navigate those complications, then I'm happy for you to be able to experience sexual pleasure. Because pleasure makes the whole world a happier place!

Honestly, I don't understand where people are coming from that makes them think that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is in some way intrinsically related to harm and violence. People can abuse the pursuit of pleasure in a selfish context as a justification for hurting others, but the problem is in the personality that enables one to commit violence against others, not one's mere desire to be sexually satisfied.

Some sexual perverts may be psychopaths, this is true. But plenty of vanilla straights are psychopaths, too. And some sexual perverts are in fact good people. Why make this an issue of sexual perversion, unless your ulterior motive is to push an agenda of sexual morality? The sexually repressed are no less likely to be psychopathic than the sexually liberated.

Friday, February 8, 2013


The important thing about photography as an art is, whether or not a photo comes out well, you took that particular photo for a reason. You saw something, either in the world or in your head or both - and that's your concept. That's what makes it interesting. That's what makes it worth looking at. Out of all the countless scenes flashing by you in your everyday life, you picked this one, for a reason.

Sometimes a photo is good enough that it works on its own, and sometimes the concept is obvious enough that it doesn't need expounding on. But other times, revealing or discussing the concept can really enhance the subjective impact of a photo. Even poor photos can be made interesting with a good concept, and good photos will obtain depth and dimension with a strong concept.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Caring For Sex Workers

personality, noun
the quality of being a person; existence as a self-conscious human being; personal identity.

If you really care about people who are exploited in the sex industry, you won't go out trying to ban prostitution and pornographic speech, attempting futilely to stamp out the never ending demand for sex and sexual stimuli, effectively removing a person's choice to participate in those vocations if she wants to.

Isn't it the removal of choice that you're fighting against, after all - or was that just an excuse?

No, if you care about people who are exploited in the sex industry, then you'll hope your best friend is a prostitute or a porn star, so you can look out for her and make sure she's getting a good deal and being treated fairly while she pursues her passion/vocation (as the case may be).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Companionship & Superficiality

I hate to be shallow, but looks are really important to me (if you haven't guessed by my interest in photography, I'm a very visual person). It's not the only thing I look for in an intimate partner, and it matters even less when considering a friend. And it's not the only thing that turns me on, either. But, it is one of the first and most prominent qualities you notice about a person, and thus it takes a front row seat in my gallery of desires. I don't get to choose what gets me hot.

That having been said, companionship is based on a whole lot more than appearance - in my opinion, compatibility and mutual desire (the physical aspect being only one component of that desire) are the most important qualities. That appearance carries an appeal all its own shouldn't be construed as a contradiction to that statement.

Inner beauty and outer beauty are not mutually exclusive, and while they can exist in both the same or different people (and there are also, theoretically, those people devoid of any beauty, inside or out), a person's interest in, and even devotion to, outer beauty does not negate their ability to recognize and respect the importance of inner beauty also.

In short, beauty's not everything. But it is something.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Erotic art is not sex

Erotic art is not sex. It may be depictions of sex, but even then, a person looking at a picture (regardless of what he does to himself as he looks at the picture) is in no way, shape, or form having sex with the subject of the picture.

It's crazy that this even needs to be said, but too many people treat pictures as if they were sex itself. At most, erotic art is only pictures of sex, and much of it is not even that.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Don't Change Me

I have a pet peeve about people who want to change me. They want me to cut my hair. They want me to dress in men's clothes. They want me to wear heels and stockings. They want me to take hormones to grow bigger breasts. They want me to grow my body hair out or shave it all off.

I appreciate that people's tastes are particular and varied. And I encourage suggestions. But this is the way I am, and I just don't appreciate people coming in with the sort of attitude that I have to be a certain way - which is the particular way they like people to be.

If you like something that I'm not, then just maybe, I'm not the perfect model for you. Again, it's a matter of attitude more than anything. "You have to do this, you have to do that." "You really should do this, you really should do that." I'll do whatever the hell I please. You're free to make suggestions, but what I decide is ultimately what's best for me, and I expect you to respect that.

My body, my choice. That doesn't just mean that I get to make the final decision (though I do), that means that you ought to give me the benefit of the doubt. If there's something about me you don't like, it may not necessarily be deliberate - I may even want to change it - but you don't know that, and if you want to be on my side, I expect at most a polite suggestion rather than an expectation of change.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Unreciprocated Attraction

Mutual attraction is great. Everyone longs to find someone they're attracted to, who is also attracted to them. That's when sparks fly, and when love blooms. But most attraction that occurs in the natural world is not reciprocated - that's partly what makes mutual attraction so magical, because it's rare. But when I look at the way people treat displays of one-sided attraction, it seems as if they assume all attraction has to be mutual, or that if it's not, it is a vile thing.

I just have this picture in my head of some attractive young woman getting 'hit on' by some dirty old man. She's perfectly within her rights to say "I'm not interested", and the man has no right to harass her, but there are two ways of looking at that one-sided attraction. The young woman can either say, "thank you, I'm flattered that you think I'm attractive, but I'm not interested," or she can say - which I have the feeling is far more common - "I'm not interested...you creep."

And I think this attitude extends to other things. On a more general scale, I think people do get kinda creeped out when somebody they're not attracted to expresses an attraction to them. And why else would this be, other than because they are viewing that attraction from the perspective of reciprocity? "This guy's attracted to me, but he's gross, I'm not attracted to him, so ew, the very thought of having sex with him turns my stomach." But I wish we didn't have to make this assumption on the reciprocity of attraction, because it hinders the ability of admirers of beauty to appreciate nature's bounty.

What I mean is, especially in art and, yes, also pornography, where you have the element of modeling, a person is displaying their physical beauty - and, yes, sometimes erotic beauty, particularly in pornography - for people they have no expectation of being attracted to. A model who poses for Playboy would be deluded if she thought she was only doing it because the only people who would see her on that cover would be people she's going to be attracted to. I mean, that thought is so ridiculous because it doesn't even factor into the reason why people model.

Now, models and those in the industry generally understand this, I would hope. Although people who criticize the industry may not, making remarks about why someone would want to model naked (or whatever) so any old stranger can ogle her. But again, that's missing the point. Attraction needn't be mutual to be meaningful. If a person is beautiful, then what's wrong with allowing people she's not attracted to to appreciate that beauty, in a one-sided fashion? And that also applies to erotic beauty. In fact, the model can also get something out of it - but it's not mutual attraction, it's a feeling that she's offering her beauty to the world instead of hording it and revealing it only to privileged individuals in private.

In my experience as an erotic model, it was awkward at first getting compliments not just from persons I was not attracted to, but persons of a sex I was not attracted to. Namely, getting compliments from men when I'm not gay. It's something I had to get used to, but never did I presume that if a gay man appreciated my beauty, that it had to be accompanied by any kind of reciprocation on my part whatsoever. It doesn't matter who appreciates my erotic beauty, because it's a one-sided attraction.

And I think that attitude could be used by many, even those who are not erotic models - and particularly the attractive - to treat those who appreciate their beauty (erotic or otherwise). If somebody is attracted to you, treat it as a compliment, even if the attraction is not mutual. You don't have any obligation to reciprocate, however you have no reason to get creeped out either. If I can get used to gay men hitting on me, then surely young women the world over can deal with dirty old men hitting on them.

And meanwhile, those who appreciate the beauty of others would do well to heed this advice, too. Just because you're attracted to someone doesn't mean they are obligated to reciprocate in any way. It's ridiculous that I even need to say it, but in this day of talk about rape culture and victim-blaming, where some people would suggest that if you think a girl's hot, then she owes you sex - no. If a girl's hot, you can absolutely appreciate her hotness, but it's still her decision whether or not she wants to have sex, and with whom. Attraction is not intrinsically mutual.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Teen Sex

I'm not interested in stopping teens from having sex. I'm interested in stopping teens from having bad sex. Which includes not only unpleasurable sex (although that is important, too), but risky sex as well.

The teens who don't have sex are, obviously, not having bad sex, and are therefore not part of the problem. Telling the teens who are having bad sex to stop having sex altogether isn't going to work. The only solution is to encourage teens to have good sex (which means safe and pleasurable sex), if they choose to have sex at all.

If more teens having sex is the cost of less teens having bad sex, I will happily pay that price. Unfortunately, more teens having bad sex is the cost of less teens having sex overall, and that is what most of the people invested in teen sex education seem to have as their goal.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The 'Sex Wars'

Regarding how active a person's sex life is, I respect the individual's choice - whether that constitutes promiscuity or celibacy or something in between. They are all valid choices.

I just regret the fact that so many people make the decision based on either the perceived morality or the availability of sex, rather than what they actually desire.

I accept that it's unrealistic to expect this, but in a perfect world, everyone would have access to the sex they wanted, and shame wouldn't keep them from having it (or not having it, if that's their desire).