And I don't mind.
I am an erotic artist. You could also call me a pornographer - you wouldn't be wrong; I just don't like to define myself by the pornography I produce, because it's simply not my central focus. It's something I occasionally do on the side, for fun. But erotic art is my passion. Even so, I am not naive about the ways that my audience (at least the part that appreciates what I do) is bound to respond to my work. That's kind of partly the point. A proper appreciation of my work encompasses more than merely a sexual response, but I do not disparage the part that includes that sexual response.
In my time on photo-sharing sites, seeking out other model photographers, I've come across a certain subsection of self-portrait photographers like myself - frequently, for some reason or another, teenage girls, often with quite a bit of talent. Their approach to their work (which does not always include nude or erotic portraits), and their perspective on the accepted range of responses to their work, varies. Many of them, denying their fundamental nature as socio-sexual organisms, do not like the idea of people viewing images of them in a sexual light. Very few, in my experience, are as open as I am (here is a recent, refreshing example).
Some of them occupy a middle ground, however, where they accept the reality of people having a sexual reaction to their work, but simply draw the line at these people communicating their reaction. A sort of "out of sight, out of mind" approach. "You can think it, you can do it, but just don't tell me about it, 'cause I don't wanna know." My own personal approach is informed by the sense of being shamed for being attracted to those who I am attracted to - which has inspired the reactionary attitude that is encapsulated in the ethos of this blog; that is, being truthful about where you find beauty in the world. As a result, I want no part in the machinery of making anyone else feel ashamed for the sexual response they have when (at the very least) privately observing images of the bodies of others.
At first, it was awkward for me, being the subject of sexual comments from anonymous strangers - almost exclusively from people I have no attraction to. (I didn't realize at the time how true it is that men are far more predominantly the consumers of visual sexual material than women, regardless of whether that material features men or women). I've pretty much gotten used to it by now, although depending on the level of explicitness, it may sometimes make me feel a little uncomfortable. But I still don't disparage my fans for that. And the easiest way for me to do that is simply to turn the situation around. I hate the inequality between the sexes as much as anyone, but I'm not sure to what extent women can ever understand what the male condition is like (in terms of sex).
But I can. Whatever my gender might be, and even if I have a low sex drive, I know what male sexual desire feels like. And I know how insistent it can be, and how fantastic it feels to indulge it. I would probably never actually make the sorts of explicit comments I'm talking about, mainly because I know that most women wouldn't appreciate them, and I don't want to make them uncomfortable (and if there are a few who like that sort of thing - which I have encountered - I don't really feel free to jeopardize my reputation in front of a global audience that might be judging me on my overall treatment of women). But when I get a comment like that, all I have to do is imagine that it's me reacting to some internet model that I think is insanely attractive.
And even if, in that case, the model wouldn't be nearly as accepting, I know where that feeling is coming from, I know how powerful and yet harmless it is (by itself), and I would be a hypocrite to criticize it. It's true that you don't necessarily need to vocalize those kinds of things, but I know what it can mean to do so, and especially when the one you are vocalizing it to acknowledges it. So while I'm not going to go out on a limb and feign interest where it's not forthcoming, I will permit such comments to be made, all in the name of being open and supportive of the myriad wondrous ways that human sexuality manifests itself.