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I’ve been watching a lot of porn lately. But it’s for research, I swear. Ok, so maybe some of it is for fun, but the vast majority of what I watch is actually research for a site that ferrets out the diamonds in the rough, and shares them in a positive environment that any adult can feel good about experiencing. As such, not only do I spend a fair amount of time watching adult material but also reading about it, writing about it and attending adult conferences like the Feminist Porn Awards and Conference, which recently took place in Toronto.

With this “alternative” career in mind, friends, family and nosey strangers often ask me how immersing myself in the world of sweat, pleasure and naked lust has affected me. Aside from occasionally having an uncontrollable flashing vision of hundreds of different shots of naked bodies colliding when I close my eyes at night, the most obvious change has been in the cavalier way that I now treat naked bodies, including my own.

While I have lived in two different clothing optional co-operative living situations (I’m really not as hippy as I sound) I never did make it past the bra and panties at the naked brunch. Something has changed in me though, and I realized what it was when I recently attended a Naked Improv Comedy Show.

During the show one of the comics asked for somebody to join him on stage in all of their nude glory to tell a joke. As crickets chirped in the audience, I thought what the hell, I see naked people every day, and so does every damn person here, even if it’s just their reflection. Hell, there’s enough tits on Game of Thrones to last a dwarf’s lifetime, so what does it matter if someone sees mine? It was really quite anti-climactic, and my joke was very lame.

I have come to view naked bodies as natural and normal but I do however have to recognize in my viewing of adult content that I come from a place of privilege, which largely influences how the content affects me. I am a fit, white, blonde, cisgendered woman and the homogenous body type of adult entertainment works in my favor. One of the strongest ways that adult all media affects woman is by raising body expectations to an unreasonable standard and it is crucial that we demand a diverse and realistic range of bodies that are presented as normal and not fetishized.

I have had body issues in the past and I understand what it’s like to obsessively stare at your flab in the mirror and contemplate if maybe, just maybe, you could pull it off your body without too much blood and inconvenience.

When I was younger, my body was convinced that an apocalyptic famine was inevitable and I tried unsuccessfully for years to lose weight. Ever supportive, my sisters also tried to “help” me by literally ripping food out of my hands and dashing away calling me fatty. Not helpful. The weight stayed and I spent my most vulnerable years wondering why I couldn’t look like the girls in the magazines or my friends. Yet with this perspective, I was able to appreciate the less than perfect parts of my body when I did end up losing weight..though I somehow really didn’t see the saggy boobs coming. That took some time to process.

From what I had learned growing up, I thought that as soon as I was skinny boys would be prostrate at my feet willing to battle gladiator style for the glory of wrapping their arms around my tiny waist. Needless to say the first rejection nearly unhinged my hormonally imbalanced, half starved teenage self but it was a great lesson that being skinny isn’t the answer to low self esteem. It isn’t going to give you eternal happiness; only you can give that to yourself regardless of your size.

It does get a bit overwhelming when I spend a full day screening content but the effect has been anything but negative, and it is because I look very critically at the scenes I watch for authenticity (and have become an expert at recognizing fake tits). I measure the scenes against what I know to be true and what I have experienced as pleasure. I set the bar in real life for media to live up to rather than letting somebody else’s interpretation set my expectations.

I am lucky that I was introduced to porn in my 20s after I had fully developed my sexuality and confidence in my body. This is becoming less and less the case and with the pervasiveness of the Internet we now have a huge responsibility to make sex on screen mirror sex in real life. It is in our hands to respect the variety of pleasure and bodies in age, race, size, gender orientation and abilities. If we make what we want to see and demand to be represented as beautiful bodies of every type, then adult entertainment can truly become a positive force in sex and body education.

Header photo courtesy of rachelnico.wordpress.com

 

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