Monday, February 22, 2016

Fashion and "Risk Management"

Also, slut-shaming and victim-blaming.

When we tell girls, "dress like a slut, expect to get raped", we're discouraging girls from dressing like sluts, while reinforcing the stereotype of the neanderthal man who demands (out of some blind sense of entitlement) sexual satisfaction at the merest hint of arousal. But what kind of person is that? And what kind of a world would it be where women had to cover up their bodies in public so as not to "entice" men? (Doesn't this already happen in some parts of the world?). How much would that suck?

You might be one of the lucky ones who has a wife or a girlfriend who "puts out" every time you get horny. But you don't own women. You don't even own the woman who is your wife or girlfriend. If she wants to give her body - or even just the merest sight of her body - to you and only you, in the privacy of your shared bedroom, as some kind of gift, that's her business. If other women choose otherwise, that's their business, not yours.

I am a sensual creature. I like to be surrounded by eros - and it doesn't need to constantly be coupled with tactile stimulation and satisfaction. Maybe you're not like me. Maybe there is no compromise to be made between us. But I want to live in a world where all kinds of women can dress like sluts in public, and feel comfortable and confident in their safety, because the men of that world have enough self-control not to rape at the sight of a woman's body, and enough graciousness to appreciate the pleasant eye candy that those women are providing for the men, instead of insulting them for it and treating them like objects - either to dictate their wardrobes, or to punish their "impropriety" and teach them a lesson (a likely excuse for their raging hormones) by subjecting them to guilt-free acts of sexual abuse.

Seriously. Just think about that for a moment. What kind of example are we setting for mankind when we behave that way? It's enough already.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Life, Liberty, and the Freedom of Diversity

"In a free society, what one encounters in the public square will be challenging, not comforting."
- zharth

I respect your right to hold an opinion, to choose your own beliefs, and to lead a life according to your own personal set of guiding principles. It might sound clich├ęd, but I will defend that right to the death, even if I happen to disagree with you, because it's no different than my freedom to hold an opinion, choose my own beliefs, and lead a life according to my own guiding principles.

But that doesn't mean I will always respect what your opinions, beliefs, and guiding principles are. Sometimes those things end up infringing on the rights of others. Diversity is a celebration of differences. It does not mean everyone coming together and compromising on a single lifestyle that offends the statistically smallest sample of the population. Diversity means growing a backbone, and learning to look the other way in the face of other people making choices about their own lives that you don't agree with.

Democracy relies on people getting along (or, barring that, a competent justice system), but this can only come as the result of a mature understanding of the difference between harm and offense, and the duty one has to take responsibility for one's own feelings, rather than impose their beliefs and views on others. Forcing somebody to change their lifestyle because you don't like it is the antithesis of freedom and diversity.

And if you disagree with me, I will respect your right to do so. But don't expect me to respect the angle of your viewpoint. Because I sure as hell am not going to change the way I live my life just to satisfy the arrogant illusion that your principles are better than mine, or anyone else's. Remember what I said about defending to the death? Well that goes for my viewpoints, as well.


Seriously, I don't get this. If a woman wants to wear pants and work in construction, we support her freedom to do so. If a man wants to walk hand in hand through the park with his boyfriend, we support his freedom to do so. But if I want to go out and work in my garden in the nude, I'm a public menace? Because the sight of my naked body might offend someone's delicate sensibilities? Because people have the "right" not to be exposed to other people's nude bodies? What the hell kind of world are we living in?

I'm not asking you to join me. I'm not even asking you to like it. I'm just asking you to extend the same courtesy I've extended you - the freedom to wear clothes if that makes you more comfortable. And "forcing" you to look at my naked body (it's not like I'm tying you down and holding your eyes open) might not feel like a courtesy (on the other hand, how about all those times that you take for granted when I've covered up just to satisfy your beliefs?), but that's only because you have the privilege of agreeing with the majority view.

In a hypothetical nudist world - provided you feel the same way you do now, and don't become a nudist just because it's common - don't you think you would advocate for the right to dress before leaving the privacy of your house, if being publicly clothed were not allowed? Yeah, that's what I thought. So, do you support freedom and diversity, or do you just support going along with whatever the majority view happens to be? I know a lot of people whose beliefs align with the latter - and, again, you have the freedom to think that way. But you only have that freedom because other people disagree with you, and are willing to defend that right to disagree. Otherwise, in some way or another - be it hairstyle, dress, language, lifestyle, relationship, hobbies, choice of food or drink, etc. - you would be forced to live according to somebody else's mandate.

And if that thought doesn't bother you, you are still within your rights. But know that you are no supporter of freedom. And it's disingenuous of you to claim your view represents freedom, in the hopes of luring in more blind followers of your creed - people like you who like the sound of freedom, because it's more socially acceptable, but really believe in authoritarianism. Of course, authoritarianism is nice if you're the one in authority. But the whole point of democracy is fairness. We can't all be in authority. That no one is fully in authority in a democracy is just the price we pay in order to avoid being bossed around by somebody else. So quit bossing me around. This is a democracy we're living in here.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Man in Red

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Love and Lust

Some people say that "lust" is nothing but an inferior analog to love. Some will even go so far as to declare it a sin, to contrast love's virtue. But let me tell you something. I used to be one of those people who would get depressed on Valentine's Day, my thoughts turning inevitably toward how lonely my life has been, on that night when couples everywhere go out to have romantic, candlelit dinners, and profess their [allegedly] undying love for one another. I confess that I myself am a romantic at heart. And to be fair, I have to disclaim the fact that I've had more luck than some (for which I am grateful). But I just wasn't dealt the card for an abundance of romantic love in my life, whether that's something I want or not.

(I'll say that being involved in an unconventional, largely non-romantic "relationship" of sorts has me thinking that the headache of anxiety that comes with the obligation of dinner reservations and flower bouquets is almost certainly more trouble than it's worth. But who's to say that romance has to look like a Hallmark card? If I had my way, I'd already redesign the way we celebrate holidays - so why stop there?).

But here's the thing. Ever since I've re-dedicated Valentine's Day to a celebration of self-love, its approach hasn't once caused me to dwell on despair, but rather to look ahead with excitement to a day of shameless indulgence in some of the most consistent pleasures that life has to offer - pornography and masturbation! Imagine it. A warm bath, candles, and your favorite bodice ripper - or better yet, your trusty vibrator.* No obligations, no commitments, and no distractions. A day devoted entirely to you. Remember that self-love is the most important love of all.

So, you prudes can disparage the realm of the senses all you want - I know you'll do it whether you have my permission or not - but too many people underestimate the value of sexual pleasure, and its importance to happiness. Lust is not evil. It is essential to life. And like a flower in the rain, life withers in its absence. Neglect it, and you're bound to suffer. What better purpose, then, can Valentine's Day have than to reaffirm its central position in your life?

* For those visual creatures out there, like myself, the internet has an abundance of porn (of all varieties!) just waiting to respond to the touch of your fingertips. You don't even have to pay any money or breach any credit card barriers to get to the good stuff! (For better and worse - better for the consumers, not so much for the producers of this content).

If you're new to the world wide web of porn, it's as simple as conducting a Google image search with the SafeSearch turned off. A careful selection of search terms will help guide you to the content of your dreams (although some of the juicier stuff might require a more expert touch).

If you want my personal recommendation, avoid the tacky porn sites and pay tumblr a visit. Whatever you might say about that site (and you might say a lot), it is undoubtedly a treasure trove of erotic photography. It's my go-to destination for erotic stimulation these days, better than flickr and deviantART - even if, like me, you prefer the artsier stuff.

Or, you know, you could always just browse the pictures here on my blog...

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fetishizing Virginity

Can innocence be sexy? Is it allowed to be? By the principle of contradiction, every concept invites its own opposite. And as nature abhors a vacuum, so it is also true that virginity is a hole begging to be filled. Of course, this view implies that sexual activity is an inevitability, but few things in life are more certain. In that category, Benjamin Franklin would undoubtedly include death and taxes. But as sure as we struggle for survival as individuals, our biological imperative demands that we fornicate (for the inconvenient if critically important intended goal of procreation).

For some people, this involves raising a family. For others, it leads to a long string of one-night stands. For others still, it simply means masturbating before the warm glow of a computer screen (and that approach certainly has its merits). Regardless - and in spite of the existence of an asexual minority, for whom much of this discussion will probably not apply - the recorded difficulties of a celibate lifestyle (whether voluntary, or the product of ill fortune) lend support to the view that virginity was designed to be (at best) a temporary state.

So I was munching on some chocolate-covered dried cherries the other day (very tasty), and a thought occurred to me (because that's how my brain works). It's hard to find any aspect of human sexuality that is not reviled in some circles, but - popular though it is in the annals of history - lusting after virgins is not generally considered a politically correct expression of one's sexuality. Why should that be? While I don't see it as being intrinsically problematic, there are a couple of potential pitfalls that deserve to be addressed.

Love the Madonna, Hate the Whore

I despise the Madonna-whore complex. It is a woefully sex-negative view that encompasses the epitome of everything that is wrong with the Christian approach to sex. Purity is divine, because the stain of sex is a sin. When we begin to value virginity - not just for its own sake, but even as a sexual ideal - we run the risk of disparaging those with sexual experience. This view is often applied within a sexist framework, dovetailing neatly with the phenomenon of slut-shaming. If the vestal virgin is godly, then the woman who has carnal knowledge of man is one step closer to the fires of Hell.

The unfortunate result of this belief is the cultural appraisal of a woman's value based on her [lack of] sexual experience, manifested in the traditional version of marriage, in which a father barters his daughter's virginity as if it were an item for trade. This is the appalling historical origin of the custom of a man asking permission from his lover's father for the privilege of marrying her (i.e., having intercourse with her - which leads to babies - in the antiquated view). The even more disgusting flip side of this is the notion that an unattached woman without her virginity is fallen and worthless - damaged goods.

I Saw, I Conquered...Then I Came

Another potential pitfall comes in the form of the stereotype of the man who wishes to "conquer" or "steal" a woman's virginity - or, worse yet, the idea that the man wishes to "destroy" the woman (leaving her a confused and bloody mess) by taking her purity (and thus value) away from her. This relies on the belief that sex is a corrupting influence, shared by puritan religious conservatives and sex-negative feminists alike. But while it can be "perverted" (in the sense of being twisted to evil ends), I view sexuality as a positive force - a pleasure-inducing principle. I would never propose to assume that a person would be better off without carrying the weight of their own virginity - as that is a decision everyone must make for themselves - but I don't see the harm in a little friendly influence (god knows the abstinence educators use it to their own dirty ends).

A New Awakening

So, then, is the fetishization of virginity redeemable? If one were to successfully navigate the pitfalls, is there anything legitimately positive that could be said about the desire to relieve another person of their virginity? I would argue that the answer to that question is a resounding yes! It's important not to put too much emphasis on a person's virginity, to avoid running the risk of reducing a person to the level of sexual experience they have, with an objectifying focus on defloration as a stackable award, instead of the importance of the thoughts and feelings of your sexual partner, while simultaneously contributing to the sexist double standards that promote unhealthy attitudes towards female sexual empowerment.

But if the evil that undoubtedly exists in the world - self-gratifying male "maidenheadhunters" - has obscured your vision to the point that you see only the evil, for fear of its possibility, and not the potential for good that underlies it, then you have already lost. And what is the loss of virginity but an expansion of horizons - the acquirement of a brand new source for pleasure? It's the first step on an exciting, and truly eye-opening journey. What man - or woman - could be criticized for wanting to share in that experience, to be responsible for giving a person their first orgasm, or even just the first stirrings of sexual reception?

Surely, you've heard the stereotype that the first time is always bad. But this doesn't have to be the case. While practice improves performance, experience can never replace the novelty of awakening a newfound sense that's never been engaged before. And while the fantasy of two first-timers groping about in the dark is (arguably) seductive, it pales next to the promise of the age-old pairing of innocence and experience. In any other discipline, we would welcome the expertise of an old-hat guiding a newbie, but for some reason, with sex, we insist on leaving the blind to lead the blind.

Again, it is imperative that we do not overvalue the importance of virginity, lest we end up hoarding it and lording over it like in the past. The second, third, and fourth times can be just as thrilling as the first - if not more so. And surely there are those who prefer experienced partners. As for me personally, I have a low opinion of those sorts of persons who have an inflated sense of modesty, and look down their noses on anyone who freely indulges in their "baser" instincts. I don't see any intrinsic value in a person holding onto their virginity beyond artificial bounds - and I don't believe that the journey from sexual innocence to experience is one that ought not to be taken, under normal (and not necessarily special, as on one's wedding night) circumstances.

But I would never disparage a virgin for her lack of experience, provided she's willing to experiment. I wouldn't disparage a seasoned veteran for her abundance of experience, either - sometimes it can be just as much fun to learn as it is to teach. But if we can be allowed to appreciate the one, then we should be allowed to appreciate the other, as well. Consider the fact that the MILF phenomenon (young men desiring experienced women) is more mainstream than its inverse - cougar culture, and that digging for gold carries a considerably less sinister connotation than robbing the cradle. Yet surely, it is no mystery to me - nor an indictment of the general goodness of human nature - that some may find an erotic appeal in innocence, and harbor a desire to participate in the sexual awakening of others.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Blue is the Warmest Color

Scientific fact. Also the title of a good movie.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Cheesy Literotica

Your knees buckle, and you sink to the floor at the sight of the naked body that stands before you. This beautiful creature has no shame, for there could be no shame in possessing the body of a God. There could only be shame in covering it up, and preventing the masses from basking in its radiant glory. Your eyes are transfixed by the magnificent, towering rod that throbs just inches from your face. It is pink and swollen, and arches toward the heavens, in stiffened reverence to the perfect creator who once dreamt it up, and then fashioned it out of the primordial clay.

Meekly, you reach forward and grasp it in your palm. You can feel the warm pulse of desire as you begin to stroke it. A drop of nectar glistens at its tip, and you extend your tongue for a taste. Feeling blessed, you purse your lips and press them to the divine scepter in a gesture of loving devotion. With commanding authority, it presses back firmly against your lips, pushing them slightly apart. You can scarcely breathe as the holy lance slowly pierces your mouth, lubricating itself with your saliva.

Not wanting to waste this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you submit to an impassioned impulse: you shall drink ambrosia from God's own spigot. At once, you get to work coaxing the fragrant liquid out with your hands and your lips, keeping the staff moist with your tongue. The balls rock back and forth like heavenly spheres in orbit. A sigh escapes God's lips, and the fleshy landscape that fills your vision begins to convulse. The geyser erupts, and fills your oral cavity with gooey devotion.

The sheer force of it pushes your head back in surprise, and the lusty cannon escapes from the confines of your mouth. The stream, now liberated, fires aimlessly, leaving your face and body covered in God's love. Awash in this primal baptism, you feel born anew.


Man, writing erotica is hard. Let me rephrase that: writing good erotica is hard. And when I say "good", I mean by literary standards, not by porn standards. Getting somebody off is easy - even with words. You don't have to take an Honors English course in order to figure out how to get someone off.

But it occurs to me that the reason written erotica so easily devolves into cheesy puns and vomited thesauruses is that it's just not very interesting to describe the logistics of sex past a certain point. "I got hard. I stuck the cock in my mouth. I stroked it. I squeezed the balls. It came all over me." It's hot - sure. But not very interesting; and my approach towards the erotic arts has always been to apply a certain standard of quality and raise it above the level of being just smut.

And, with that in mind, all that coarse language - while effective - just doesn't sound very sophisticated. That's where the metaphors and euphemisms come into play. I'm not intentionally dancing around the issue of calling a penis a penis (or a dick or a cock) - although some authors may be, in order to circumvent the censors. I just want something more...evocative, than provocative.

But, you know, even the floweriest metaphor gets boring with repetition, and sex is nothing if not repetitious. "I pierced the quarry with my lance, then withdrew. I pierced her again. And again. And again. And again." So, you start to look for alternatives. And consistency becomes difficult. One minute you're on a foxhunt, the next, you're fishing for oysters. Your partner morphs from a goddess into a sack of meat. Your genitals have all the versatility of a weapon, a tool, and a toy wrapped up into one handy device.

Another difficulty with writing erotica is that describing a scene takes a lot longer than getting turned on. (And if the erotica you're writing doesn't turn you on, you should probably pick a different scene). I learned that a long time ago, scribbling illicit narratives into a secret notebook, extending my arousal indefinitely in hopes of finishing the story, only to inevitably end up finishing myself first. Perhaps it would be a good idea to write in multiple sessions, but I find that I rarely return to the same story twice...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Try This On For Size (Or Don't)

I found this intriguing dress the other day, which is actually completely see-through. I'm wearing it in the picture above. It comes from the Emperor's new clothing line. Lol! No, I'm just kidding. I did find a see-through dress, though - I'm wearing it in the picture below (for real this time). It comes with a flesh-colored slip to go underneath, which is pretty cool on its own, although of course I couldn't help trying it on with nothing underneath. I imagine a lot of women would be horrified to wear something that basically looks - at a glance - like they're naked or otherwise immodestly exposed. Obviously, that kind of thing just tickles me pink. The dress - without the modesty slip - would be perfect to wear to a formal occasion at a nudist resort. It has all the benefits of looking and feeling like you're dressed, while still being completely exposed!

The pinkish orange color of it is pretty, and blends well with the skin, but I would love to see clothes like this in other colors, too - especially green. I'm always on the lookout for the kinds of things a fantasy faerie might wear. That is, if she wears anything - like topless mermaids, naked faeries are underrepresented. In my view, one of the great things about faeries is their unselfconscious acceptance of nudity. So instead of those gaudy outfits you usually see them in (even if it is neat when they're fashioned after leaves and flowers and things), I've always preferred them to be garbed (if at all) in shimmery, glittery, translucent garments. More Oona from Legend (a movie that not only shaped my mental image of faeries, but features my favorite fantasy interpretation of the devil, in the form of Tim Curry as Lord Darkness), and less the elegantly dressed faeries of Amy Brown.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Daily Video Captures

For those waiting for my annual update to my website gallery containing a handful of my best pictures taken over the previous year, stay tuned - I've been crazy busy lately and haven't gotten around to it yet. I've added something else to my Erotic Photography webpage, though, that I've been meaning to get around to for years, ever since I completed my daily nude video project between 2010 and 2011. Many of those videos (the quality varies widely, as is inevitably the case with a daily project of this sort) have been uploaded to my amateur profile on XTube. But now you can get a sneak peek at them in the form of a rotating video capture that changes to display a different image every day of the year! You'll find that at Zharth's Erotic Photography - check back daily for new images! And remember, you can watch full videos at my XTube profile. I currently have the daily image feature set up for the rest of February, and I'll be adding in the rest of the content in the near future. Let me know if you encounter any bugs!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Front & Back

A few things about this picture, for those who are curious about the invisible scaffolding that goes into the production of images like this one (as opposed to those who prefer to simply look at the result and move on):

Firstly, I know I've defended my cluttered backgrounds in the past, but yeah, they're starting to drive me crazy. I should put in the work to clean them up before taking pictures, but that's one of those idealistic sorts of things that doesn't always happen in practice. In my case, photography is often a spontaneous activity, and every moment spent preparing a backdrop is a moment that could potentially interrupt my streak of inspiration.

Plus, I live with a roommate, and as much as I'm sure she'd yell at me for taking photographic evidence of her [dis]organization skills (like anybody is going to be studying the backgrounds in my pictures, am I right? :p), I really don't like touching and moving other people's things around (no matter how many times they tell me it's okay). So, there's that.

Now, you could say, "just find a different corner of the apartment to take your pictures in!" And, on the surface, that would look like good advice. But there are only so many corners in this tiny apartment, and my choice depends largely on certain limiting factors that are more or less outside of my control. Some corners of the apartment just photograph better than others - and I'm not talking about the backdrop. I mean the lighting - a combination of the overhead lights and the natural light which comes in pretty much on only one side of the whole apartment. (I know, I need to learn how to use an off-camera flash - it's next on my list of photo upgrades). And then I have to think about where to put the camera in these cramped spaces, and what might get in the way of the foreground (like the corner of a bed, or a table, or a door frame). There are a finite number of spots in this apartment with flattering lighting and enough room to set up a camera.

Enough about the challenges of ghetto photography. The other thing I wanted to say about this photograph is that its creative genesis was pretty straightforward (which makes sense: the subject is pretty simple). Surely you're already familiar with my past experiments with coupling front and back shots of my figure together (here is just one of my most recent examples). I mean, it's a pretty obvious technique - but I'm not one to shy away from the classics. Well, I was actually thinking about it recently, and my last couple of attempts were diptychs. It occurred to me that a clone shot with two figures seemingly standing next to each other at the same time (instead of two figures in the same place but at different times) would result in a smoother image, while also emphasizing the social nature of the portrait. And that's how this image was born.

I must note that, while I think it works pretty well as it is, at least as far as creating the illusion of two figures interacting goes, they feel a little unnaturally close together. Which is the same problem I had when I tried to create a similar image a few years back with a clothed figure and a nude one. I mean, it's not like two people can't stand that close together - especially if they're close friends (or better). But without contact or overlapping - which is tricky to do in Photoshop - and without synchronization between the two figures' body language (which is difficult to fake when the two figures are not standing there at the same time actually interacting with each other - this is one of those challenges that clone photographers have to struggle with), the closeness actually (to me, at least) sets off my 'personal space alarm' and makes the image look slightly less real.

As I said, I still think it looks great, but that's something I would play around with if I were to try this shot again (and I probably will try another variation of it sooner or later). In this case, the closeness was a symptom of me working with a new lens - a prime, with a fixed focal length. I had the camera pushed back against the far wall, and I just couldn't back up any more to get more space in the frame. I could have (and possibly should have) switched out for another lens, but really, I'm trying to get some experience using this lens since it's new, and I want to get a good feel for it, and see how the quality of the images I take while using it ultimately turn out.

Oh, one last thing: 5x7 is such an awkward aspect ratio for photography. I don't know why, but I seem to have a hard time either finding frames or getting prints in that ratio. So I try to avoid using it as much as possible, opting for either of the more popular 4x5, which is a little wider, or 4x6, which is a tad longer (compare). But I'll be honest, sometimes I'll find myself working on an image where 5x7 frames it just perfectly, and no other ratio will do.

Thanks for taking a peek behind the curtain with me!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Screwing in a Light Bulb

Q: How many nudists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Just one. We do things like everybody else does them. We just do them naked. -_^

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cabin Fever

It's not all bad. So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.