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The American Crusade Against Porn

About the author: Allison Leigh is a pornographer, producer, polyamorist, and professional kinkster. When sexuality is business, business is fun! 

Guns, God, and “good ol’ boys” – the United States evokes a certain image. With liberal coasts divided by a broad band of socially conservative states, the US has a reputation for being the redneck “man’s man” of the world; so why are so many states trying to curtail pornography? In this age where over 30 percent of data transmitted over the internet is adult entertainment, what effect would a moratorium on erotic images and videos have?

In a voice vote that has attracted much scrutiny, the Florida House of Representatives passed a resolution recently declaring porn a “public health risk” that “states a need for education, research and policy changes to protect Floridians, especially teenagers, from pornography.” It stands out in a bleak contrast to the same House’s overwhelming “no” to an assault rifle ban, a decision that was debated for a brief three minutes earlier that session, just days after a shooting at a high school in Broward, Florida that took 17 lives. Surely guns are more of a threat to public health than erotica?

Florida’s decision is not without precedent. In April of 2016, Utah passed a similar resolution through their legislature, and before that, the conservative state created the position widely referred to as a “Porn Czar” to oversee complaints and issues arising from erotic entertainment. Both Florida and Utah’s non binding resolutions could be considered challenges to the First Amendment decision reached in 1973’s Miller v. California, in which the Supreme Court found that erotic materials could only be restricted if they met three requirements applying community standards of offensiveness, with final say being given to the courts to determine if the work lacks “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

Attorney General candidate and Florida Representative Ross Spano (R) said, “there is research that finds a connection between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, forming and maintaining intimate relationships and deviant sexual behavior.” However, psychologists working in the field disagree; Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health associate professor Eric Schrimshaw told CNN that “...Evidence also suggests that it is not pornography in general that may be correlated with potential negative outcomes.”

Scapegoating porn and “porn addiction” as a catch-all for intimacy problems has become a commonplace topic amongst moral conservatives. However, the stigma against enjoying adult entertainment may prove to be far more harmful to the psyche. Research performed by Joshua Grubbs of Case Western shows that “seeing oneself as a porn addict is predicted not by how much porn one views, but by the degree of religiosity and moral attitudes towards sex.” Now, Grubbs has published explosive follow-up research, demonstrating that believing oneself is addicted to porn actually causes pain and psychological problems, in contrast to the idea that identifying as a porn addict is a step on the road to recovery.

Sexuality is an integral part of the human experience, and enjoyment of eroticism is a healthy part of that. Far from simply being a way to privately blow off steam, studies suggest that viewing erotic materials leads to increased arousability and higher sex drive throughout life, a fact that should surprise exactly no one who watches porn. 40 million Americans are self-described pornography users; in reality the number is likely far higher, skewed by social stigma against the habit. Erotica has been a part of human life since the Paleolithic era, and puritanical edicts like the ones from Florida and Utah do nothing for public health, save to damage our collective sexual psyche.

This post first appeared on MyErotica.com

 

REFERENCES:

1. Anapol, Avery. "Florida House declares porn a public health risk shortly after denying assault rifle ban." The Hill. February 21, 2018. Accessed February 22, 2018. http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/374816-florida-house-votes-to-declare-porn-a-public-health-risk-within-an-hour

2. Chen, Jason. "Finally, Some Actual Stats on Internet Porn." Gizmodo. June 01, 2010. Accessed February 22, 2018. https://gizmodo.com/5552899/finally-some-actual-stats-on-internet-porn

3. Domonoske, Camila. "Utah Declares Porn A Public Health Hazard." NPR. April 20, 2016. Accessed February 22, 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/20/474943913/utah-declares-porn-a-public-health-hazard

4. Grubbs, J. B. "Perceived addiction to Internet pornography and psychological distress: Examining relationships concurrently and over time." American Psychological Association. Accessed February 22, 2018. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-42188-001

5. Howard, Jacqueline. "Is porn really a 'public health crisis'?" CNN. September 02, 2016. Accessed February 22, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2016/07/15/health/porn-public-health-crisis/index.html

6. Leigh, Allison. "The Key to Desire." MetArt Blog: The key to desire: how to unlock this life-enhancing drive. Accessed February 22, 2018. https://www.metart.com/blog/20180216/The_key_to_desire__how_to_unlock_this_life_enhancing_drive/

7. Ley, David J. "Your Belief in Porn Addiction Makes Things Worse." Psychology Today. September 15, 2015. Accessed February 22, 2018. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/women-who-stray/201509/your-belief-in-porn-addiction-makes-things-worse

8. "Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973)." Justia Law. Accessed February 22, 2018. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/413/15/

 

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Porn and the fight for racial equality: the adult industry drops racism and learns respect

About the author: Allison Leigh is a pornographer, producer, polyamorist, and professional kinkster. When sexuality is business, business is fun! 

While the rest of the world strives to move forward on racial issues, the usually progressive adult industry appears to be one of the last bastions of normalized racial inequality. It is only via movement from within that any change can be made – and it is finally happening, as seen here on SexArt and across the industry as a whole.

You may be asking yourself what’s wrong with the categorization of “interracial porn,” and at a glance, the answer is nothing – there’s certainly nothing at all wrong with people of different races having sex, or with enjoying watching this. Indeed, the visual effect of skin on skin can be heightened in the most beautiful and erotic way when the performers are of different races and contrasting skin colors. 

However, in the adult industry, “Interracial” or “IR” is only used to refer to performers of African descent – a sinister shadow of what’s inside such an innocuous brown paper bag. IR scenes typically feature a white actress with a black actor, reflecting the supposed “taboo” of “defiling” a white woman. Black actors are frequently steered towards stereotypical modes of behavior too, expected to be play dominant, macho and rough with their female partners. When a black actress is used with white actors, the themes tend toward the idea of white dominance – a disturbing extension of colonization.

The problems do not end with the fact that IR scenes harken back to ugly stereotypes. Outside of perpetuating societal issues, IR porn perpetuates inequality within the industry itself. In the scale of graduated taboos that dictates standard pay, a white actress can typically receive almost double for her first interracial scene. This boon, naturally, does not carry over to her black peers. Black actors get paid roughly the same amount as white actors, but get less work because they are considered less marketable. Black women have it worse, reporting half to three-quarters of the check that white women are awarded for the same work. Black actresses aren’t even afforded the same escalated scale of taboos that white actresses are, and often have to enter the industry performing far more extreme acts than their nonblack counterparts.

Many adult entertainment companies have taken notice and changed their policies, putting away the confederate flags, releasing less problematic titles and taking action to ensure performer equality. The progressive side of the industry is tired of being a part of the problem, and is taking steps for change. When an interracial title won the AVN award for “Clever Porn Title” while simultaneously lancing the progressive Black Lives Matter movement, performers and producers started speaking out in numbers. The tone-deaf move on the part of Adult Video News – usually a respected representative of the industry – was lambasted across twitter, with several performers going so far as to take a hiatus from adult films until the industry changes its tune.

It is arguably not the responsibility of pornography to educate. Erotica is entertainment, intended to tease and please you, to provide an outlet for sexual fantasy and exploration. However, we should acknowledge the role we can play in challenging stereotypes, in promoting equality, and in producing erotica we can be proud of.

Here at SexArt, we are committed to actively seeking out diversity, embracing our models as multifaceted performers rather than forcing them into preconceived notions of how they should behave. We hope we have been successful with this, particularly in director Alis Locanta’s work with male star Jesús Reyes, which allows him to explore his sensitive and tender side rather than shoehorning him into the role of brutish black stud. Likewise, director Andrej Lupin and producer Ariel Piper Fawn have successfully recruited ethnically diverse female models such as Katana, Sade Rose, Luna Corazon, Myiuki Son and Isabella Chrystin. One obstacle we have encountered is that in Europe, where most of our production teams operate, it seems far fewer nonwhite performers enter the industry, perhaps as a result of the prejudice they fear they will encounter. We hope members will continue to make us aware of gorgeous male and female performers of all ethnicities who you would like to see us feature.

REFERENCES: 

"AVN Award Winners." AVN Media Network. [Online] Accessed February 22, 2018. https://avn.com/awards/winners.

Clark-Flory, T. "Porn's Race Problem: The Industry Still Treats Black Actors As Taboo." Vocativ. September 11, 2015. [Online] Accessed February 22, 2018. http://www.vocativ.com/227328/porns-race-problem/index.html.

Miller-Young, M. "Pornography Can Be Empowering to Women On Screen." The New York Times. [Online] Accessed February 22, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/11/11/does-pornography-deserve-its-bad-rap/pornography-can-be-empowering-to-women-on-screen.

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Faking a headache: is there a gender gap when it comes to sexual desire?

About the author: Allison Leigh is a pornographer, producer, polyamorist, and professional kinkster. When sexuality is business, business is fun! 

The oversexed fraternity brother, the pushy husband, the housewife who feigns a headache –familiar stereotypes, derived from an assumption that men have a higher sex drive than women. But is that truly the case?

The idea that most women have a lower sex drive than men is socially ingrained. It features in our cultural tropes, mirroring how it features in our daily lives – a culture where women deny their sexual desires, and many men feel that aggressive pursuit of sex is the only way to obtain it. Women’s lack of desire for sex, especially as they get older, is treated as an innate fact that men must overcome.

At a superficial glance, statistics appear to back this up – by a small margin, men do report higher sexual desire, activity, and more permissive attitudes toward sex. However, a ten-year meta study conducted by University of Wisconsin, Madison found that these results are closely tied to social factors, including age, race, and religion, indicating that sociocultural attitudes toward sex are what leads to the gender gap when it comes to sexual desire.

Psychologists Janet Hyde and Jennifer L. Petersen analyzed more than 800 sexuality studies over a period of 15 years. Their abstract states that they found “that men reported slightly more sexual experience and more permissive attitudes than women for most of the variables. However... most gender differences in sexual attitudes and behaviors were small. Exceptions were masturbation incidence, pornography use, casual sex, and attitudes toward casual sex... nations and ethnic groups with greater gender equity had smaller gender differences for some reported sexual behaviors than nations and ethnic groups with less gender equity.” Furthermore, they found that while a woman’s sex drive may decrease over time, this correlated more strongly with monogamy than with age.

With these facts in mind, it is time to discard the notion that women have an inherently lower sex drive than men – and instead turn a critical eye toward a culture that encourages disparity between genders, sexual violence, and judgmental behaviors such as ‘slut shaming’ for women who are openly sexual.

Women are challenging gender inequity in many arenas, with recent movements such as the SlutWalk, #MeToo and Time’s Up just the most visible and vocal examples of a drive to turn the spotlight on outdated and harmful stereotypes and behaviors. Women are reclaiming the right to explore and express their sexual desires freely, without fear of recrimination; and what could be hotter than a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to claim it as her right?

Here at SexArt, we love to see women taking charge, expressing themselves sexually in whatever way comes naturally. Alexis Crystal in the film “Listen To Me” is a great example; she takes the initiative, demanding her man’s attention with a sensual footjob before getting him into a passionate 69 and riding his cock, bathed in the beautiful sunlight. Her happy smile and uninhibited moans make it clear that she’s utterly in the moment, experiencing physical pleasure and – just as importantly – the freedom to express it. Perhaps if society allowed all women to feel that it was safe to be their true sexual selves, no one would feel the need to fake a headache again. 

REFERENCES:

Petersen, J. L., & Hyde, J. S. (2010) A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences in sexuality, 1993–2007. Psychological Bulletin, 136 (1), 21-38.

Bergner, D. (2013) “Unexcited? There May Be a Pill for That.” The New York Times, 22 May [Online]. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/magazine/unexcited-there-may-be-a-pill-for-that.html

Gross, J.  (2014) “5 Studies That Offer Fascinating Conclusions about Human Sexuality.” TED Blog, 30 Oct. [Online]. blog.ted.com/6-studies-that-offer-fascinating-conclusions-about-human-sexuality/.

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A fresh definition of sexual orientation

 

How would you define your sexual orientation? Straight? Straight…ish? Open-minded? Open to offers? The three recognized labels of Straight, Gay and Bisexual just aren’t adequate as society becomes more accepting of the idea of fluid sexual identities.

I touched on this concept recently in this blog post about Pansexuality (defined as “not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity”) and it seems this attitude is gaining currency. A southern California man named Langdon Parks who felt the Kinsey Scale – created by sexologist Alfred Kinsey in 1948 as a way of measuring sexual orientation – was out of step with the times, has created his own alternative measure.

The Kinsey Scale is a linear zero-six measure of attraction to the same and the opposite sex; Parks’ new Purple-Red Scale factors in strength of attraction on another axis, with A being asexuality and F being hypersexuality.

“Not only are there sexual and asexual people, there are different kinds of sexual people as well,” Parks explained. “I thought of adding a second dimension to Kinsey's scale to represent different levels of attraction.” 

But if we’re aiming for a society that accepts and is inclusive of all shades of sexual grey, why do we need to define ourselves at all? The Purple-Red Scale could be seen as a great way of initiating a conversation about what you want, especially with a new or prospective partner. As Parks said, “The scale was designed to provide a quick and easy way of scoring a person’s view of relationships on forums and dating sites.” By increasing the options from 6 to 42, it certainly widens the scope of what’s considered ‘normal.’ It could also make you feel more comfortable with wherever you fall on the scale at a particular point in time – and that can only be a good thing.

So, I’m an E3 (mostly)… how about you?  

 

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Talk dirty to me…

Something that crops up frequently in comments from members is how much you enjoy hearing the performers communicate with each other during sex. Whether it’s little moans and whimpers of approval or full-on directions, the verbal exchange between the participants adds an extra dimension to their chemistry and makes the sex more authentic and relatable.

So it comes as no surprise that Andrej Lupin’s recent movie “Consultant” was a big hit, with sex therapist Samantha Bentley giving a professional but highly graphic description of the action, as she talks her increasingly self-assured client through the finer points of fingering, pussy eating and face-sitting. As one member commented, “People talk during sex... they ask for things, they give directions, they ask for and give feedback, they talk dirty to each other, etc. If erotica is supposed to be (at least in part) a reflection of real sex and not only idealized sex, then it should include dialogue.”

In my experience, women are usually pretty comfortable with giving each other directions during sex. If you want your pussy eaten right, you really do have to give some clues, as everyone responds differently and so what works for your lady lover may not feel so great to you. Even if it’s just, “Harder… slower… a little to the left… oh yeah, right there!” you will save yourself an awful lot of frustration if you give feedback, so long as it’s done in a positive way.

I have to confess though, what really turns me on like crazy is men giving me orders in the bedroom (although they’d better not try it anywhere else!). It instantly awakens my submissive side, and I can even pinpoint exactly where that particular little kink originated. I was only about 19 and had hooked up with a very well-endowed guy; I was sitting on the edge of the bed with his crotch in front of my face, wondering if it was even possible to get his whole cock in my mouth when he told me: “Suck it.” So… I did. That simple command, given in a low growl, made me obey without question; if I close my eyes I can still hear it to this day, and the memory still makes me hot. His very vocal expressions of approval as I followed his instructions were the icing on the cake and left me with a lifelong love of giving blowjobs, taking sexual orders, and dirty talk in general.

Some people feel shy about voicing what they want, and if you are a little inhibited, start small – trying to string together a whole sentence in your head if you’re feeling awkward can take you out of the zone. “When I do sexuality workshops, the word ‘yes’ is consistently one of people’s favorite words,” says Ruth Neustifter, Ph.D., author of “The Nice Girl’s Guide to Talking Dirty.” Giving feedback about your own arousal – “I’m so turned on,” “That feels amazing,” “I’m about to come,” is another way to give your partner positive feedback. If you’re comfortable with that, asking for what you want – “It feels so incredible when you touch me there,” “It drives me wild when you…” is a gentle way to give directions. Of course if you’re confident and you know your partner is into it too, you can take it to a whole new level with requests, orders and demands, conveyed in as graphic terms as you wish… and that’s the point at which you’ll be guaranteed my full attention and compliance.

If you, like me, are aurally and verbally inclined, I know you’ll be happy with a new handful of movies coming over the next few weeks – a long-overdue addition to our acclaimed “Girls Love Sex” series, directed by legendary SexArt auteur Bo Llanberris and starring some of his most popular models. It kicks off on Sunday with delicious redhead Elle Alexandra, who is refreshingly upfront when it comes to talking about what turns her on. Watching her get herself off with the sound of her sexy voice still in my ears certainly worked for me. I haven’t seen the whole series yet, and I can’t wait to discover whether any of the girls get really graphic… I live in hope.

 

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The acceptance of pansexuality

A short while ago on our sister site Viv Thomas, there was a discussion that really got me thinking. A member wrote about how a movie had made her see the two female participants as a couple, first and foremost, without being focused on their gender. To quote, “I was left with, mentally and conceptually… the idea that these are two PEOPLE, two HUMANS, with a great devotion to, and desire for, cherishing, ‘loving,’ and being ‘loved by,’ each other. And their gender being the same had no bearing on this desire.” 1

This encouraged me to voice my hope that one day we’ll all just be able to describe ourselves as ‘sexual,’ without the need for any prefix. But until then, my current preference is for the term ‘pansexual.’

In the past I’ve described myself as bisexual, because I’m attracted to both women and men, but it doesn’t really seem to describe the fluidity of my sexual relationships adequately. Sometimes I find myself more interested in men, sometimes women, and sometimes both equally (what can I say, I’m greedy!). The truth is, I’m attracted to the person, not the gender. That’s why, when I stumbled across the term ‘pansexual,’ it was the first time I could really express how I felt; technically it’s a label, but in reality it’s more of an anti-label.

The dictionary definition of pansexual is:

“not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.”

It’s a broader definition of sexual orientation than bisexuality because it acknowledges gender identity (psychological) and not just sex (physical) – so it embraces the possibility of attraction to transgender, transsexual, androgynous and gender fluid individuals. And it’s a concept I champion, because it seems to fully articulate the notion that attraction can occur on many levels – physical, emotional and spiritual – regardless of culturally imposed barriers.

SexArt movies are all about the connection between the participants; not just sexual chemistry, but emotional chemistry too. We all feel that spark of connection with another human being – often many times in a day. You can call it bonding, understanding, communication, fellow feeling, empathy or whatever. You feel an indefinable sense of being drawn to another person. It can be as subtle and fleeting as a warm smile exchanged with a stranger in the grocery store, or as deep and all-encompassing as an intimate night with a soulmate. It’s not necessarily sexual either; you may feel an intense connection with your bestie without wanting to jump their bones. But given that we all instinctively recognize the truth of this – that a bond happens on an unconscious, innate level – is it really such a stretch to apply this to sexual attraction too?

The term ‘pansexualism,’ now sometimes used interchangeably with ‘omnisexuality’ or ‘gender-blindness,’ was originally coined in 1917 by critics of the psychologist Sigmund Freud to denigrate his theory that all feelings of desire are manifestations of sexual instincts; but later came to be used to describe a fluid sexual orientation not limited by gender. It’s become much more widely used over the past decade or so, perhaps not surprisingly as issues of gender identity and gender fluidity become more openly discussed. It’s now used as both an overt statement of radical gender politics, and a cool thing for media-savvy celebrities to say.

Recent scientific studies suggest that sexual orientation can change over time, and is much more fluid than previously supposed. Sociologist Elizabeth Aura McClintock of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, presented research to a meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in 2015 2 suggesting that sexual orientation is not something that we are born with, but is based on choices. “Women’s sexual attraction may be more flexible and adaptive than men’s… The research revealed women were three times more likely than men to change their sexual identities by their late 20’s,” she explained.

In an experiment carried out by psychologists at the University of Essex, UK, videos of naked men and women were shown to a sample of 345 women. Responses that might reveal attraction, such as pupil dilation, were measured; the results, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2015 3 found that, of the women who described themselves as straight, 74 percent were ‘strongly’ sexually aroused by both male and female imagery. The study’s leader, Dr Gerulf Rieger, stated, “Our research clearly demonstrates that when it comes to what turns them on, [women] are either bisexual or gay, but never straight.”

If there is genuinely such a dissonance between so many women’s experiences of sexual attraction and sexual behavior – that’s to say, actually having sexual contact with those to whom we are attracted – maybe it’s time to start viewing our sexuality as fluid rather than fixed… and even to be more openminded and accepting when it comes to our own unexpected and unanticipated desires?

REFERENCES:

1. https://www.vivthomas.com/model/brandy-smile-and-stacy-snake/movie/20160212/DAY_DREAM/ – member comments

2. American Sociological Association. “Romantic opportunities appear to influence women’s sexual identities, but not men’s.” ScienceDaily, 25 August 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150825083613.htm

3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283260585_Sexual_Arousal_and_Masculinity-Femininity_of_Women

 

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Erotica versus Porn: Which do you support? Part III

About the author: SexArt member BlackWing has a Bachelor of Science in Health and Safety Education, minor in Physiology, and a Master of Science in Computer Science, Network Engineering Concentration. BlackWing is also a fully qualified and experienced paramedic and personal fitness trainer who enjoys outdoor activities, running, martial arts, teaching, mentoring, and hacking.

Part I of this series (published November 30th 2015) examined the cultural, etymological, and societal definitions of erotica and pornography. Part II (published January 27th 2016) examined the potential differences between these two as it may or may not apply to the professionals working in each industry. Part III of this series will now examine what role, if any, the consumer of adult film may or may not play in the delineation of what constitutes Erotic Film or Pornographic Film and concludes this series with open ended inquiries and investigations yet to be explored. The reader should be aware that although the information in this article is drawn from statistical analysis and data that is clearly published, and although there will be generalizations drawn, in no way is the information provided here intended to stigmatize, define, or stereotype any one group of persons, or industry as whole. The purpose of this article is to open a healthy debate regarding the differences and similarities between these two subjects.

Part III

Most scholars, researchers, psychologists, therapists, and even viewers will agree that on some level erotica does not appeal exclusively to just our carnal need for stimulation and desire. Erotica, and in particular Erotic Film, engages our aesthetic sense of how this or that human figure or figures demonstrates the ideal of human ‘beauty,’ and how such ‘beauty’ impacts our understanding and thus our expression of human sexuality. Perhaps this is why there is an increasing trend towards many Adult Film companies beginning to employ and use male and female models representing a myriad of body types, sizes, ages, ethnic origins, figures, and interpretations of sexual expression, sexual contact, and sexual relationships. There is an increasing push in the Erotic Film Industry to represent the characters honestly, particularly the women, with the skin flaws, scars and so forth that are inherent in just being human and living on this dangerous planet.

Having stated this obvious truth, there is one other category to take into consideration as it pertains to the differences between Pornographic Film and Erotic Film or Erotic Cinema and it is a subject that I have purposely not introduced until the end of this series: that of the expression of human sexuality and the expression of this in a physical sense either on camera or off between consenting adults. Before we begin to delve into this very complex, sometimes bewildering, and definitely perplexing subject, we need to do so by clearly stating what I am using as terminology for this article. For the purposes of clarity, the following definitions are drawn from the American Psychological Association of sex, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation (American Psychological Association, 2011):

Sex refers to a person’s biological status and is typically categorized as male, female, or intersex (i.e., atypical combinations of features that usually distinguish male from female). There are a number of indicators of biological sex, including sex chromosomes, gonads, internal reproductive organs, and external genitalia.

Gender refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. Behavior that is compatible with cultural expectations is referred to as gender-normative; behaviors that are viewed as incompatible with these expectations constitute gender non-conformity.

Gender identity refers to “one’s sense of oneself as male, female, or transgender” (American Psychological Association, 2006). When one’s gender identity and biological sex are not congruent, the individual may identify as transsexual or as another transgender category (cf. Gainor, 2000).

Gender expression refers to the “...way in which a person acts to communicate gender within a given culture; for example, in terms of clothing, communication patterns and interests. A person’s gender expression may or may not be consistent with socially prescribed gender roles, and may or may not reflect his or her gender identity” (American Psychological Association, 2008, p. 28).

Sexual orientation refers to the sex of those to whom one is sexually and romantically attracted. Categories of sexual orientation typically have included attraction to members of one’s own sex (gay men or lesbians), attraction to members of the other sex (heterosexuals), and attraction to members of both sexes (bisexuals). While these categories continue to be widely used, research has suggested that sexual orientation does not always appear in such definable categories and instead occurs on a continuum (e.g., Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953; Klein, 1993; Klein, Sepekoff, & Wolff, 1985; Shiveley & DeCecco, 1977). In addition, some research indicates that sexual orientation is fluid for some people; this may be especially true for women (e.g., Diamond, 2008; Golden, 1987; Peplau & Garnets, 2000).

Now that we have established, for the duration of this article, the terminology that will be used, we can explore the relationship between the expression of sexuality (and its sub categories as defined above) and that of the subject of Erotic versus Pornographic film. Why is this important? It is important because, as with all media and its productions, the question we need to ask is, “Does the media content, (i.e. the film being produced, whether Pornographic or Erotic), reflect the realities of the world in which we currently live?” This is an important question because it is the consumer who in some ways will partner with, and can at times dictate, the types of films produced in either category (Erotica or Pornography). At the end of all discussion on the subject of the differences between the two genres, there is the reality that a profit will need to occur so that the participants involved can receive their financial compensation for their professional work. The reader will notice that I did not use the phrase “payment for services rendered.” This is because today, thankfully, both industries are taking immense strides in treating their people as qualified, competent, experienced, and skilful actors, actresses, technicians, producers etc. and as such, are treating them with much more respect and regard as the professionals that they are.

It needs to be noted and acknowledged by the professionals in both industries, as well as the consumers, that “…the question of how media representations of the social world compare to the external ‘real’ world also raises several issues.” In their book Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences, Croteau, Hoynes and Milan put forward four very valid points: 1. Literature in media and cultural studies are not representations of reality because even if these are documentaries, they are crafted and edited by humans who will select and edit based on personal, known or unknown, biases and views, despite their best efforts to remain “true to reality”; 2. Media usually does not try to reflect the real world because, again, even if it is a documentary, “the limited time and resources” to present the piece will have significant impact on the final piece produced and distributed; 3. There is the issue of what defines the word “real” when referring to media representations, as clearly stated by the authors that, “In an age in which sociologists teach about the social constructions of reality and post modernists challenge the very existence of a ‘knowable reality,’ the concept of a ‘real’ world may seem like a quaint artifact from the past; and 4. Finally, media representations, particularly in both genres, as with all media and film, would suggest that representations of the social world should somehow reflect society at large. This is simply not the case, because film is used by many as an escape from reality, and because of this, “Gaps between media content and societal reality raise interesting questions that warrant our (the consumers’, the Professionals’, the Directors’ and the Producers’) attention” (Croteau, Hoynes, & Milan).

However, what is this ‘reality’ or this difference in media representations of ‘reality’ and societal constructs of ‘reality’ to which I am referring, and where does this come into play with the previous definitions of sex, sexuality, gender, gender identity, and gender expression as it pertains to this issue and the definitions of Porn versus Erotica? Why are all these seemingly unrelated topics important? These moving pieces/ definitions/ constructs are important because simply stated, sexuality, sexual expression, sexual relationships and the interactions of, expressions of, definitions of, and thus the portrayal of these human interactions are reflected in ‘real’ society; that is to say, an ‘average’ couple’s sexual interaction with each other, as well as what is portrayed in film, be it Erotic or Pornographic, is influenced by – as well as representative of – said pieces/ definitions/ constructs. Because of this fact, such a redefinition must include two concepts: person-based attraction and sexual fluidity.

In her book, “Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire,” Dr. Lisa Diamond states that “Most people believe that a relationship starts out with physical attraction and then deepens into a more significant emotional, intellectual, or spiritual bond,” whereas in her research in following a group of women over a period of years, charting their changes in sexual desire, expression, attractions etc. she found that the opposite was true (Diamond, 2008). While Dr. Diamond’s study focused only on women, and while it is true that current research shows that for the most part, “men with open gender schemas were typically heterosexually identified individuals who sought periodic same-sex contact for purposes of sexual release…(and) women, by contrast, (with) open gender schemas almost always entailed falling in love with a particular person,” it is still the case that both males and females, can, and do, “fall in love with” or become “attracted to” a person rather than a gender (Diamond, 2008). Because this is the fact, and because there is a tenuous link between the portrayal of said relationships in the media, and the media’s portrayal of said relationships as they appear in society, it follows that Porn and Erotic Film must and will change in order to take advantage of this two way link for the purposes of ‘staying in business.’ After all, at the end of this discussion Erotic Film and Pornographic film are both a part of the Adult Industry and as such, like any industry, it must make a profit in order to survive, so as to engage in the more advanced and esoteric ambitions of creativity and ‘art expression.’ To understand this relationship, all participants involved in the making and consuming of these genres, whether they realize it or not, experience two different types of sexual desire: Proceptivity and Arousability. “Proceptivity,” Dr. Diamond states, “or lust, can emerge spontaneously across a variety of environments and so can be thought of as situation independent,” whereas Arousability is situation dependent, i.e.:

A straightforward example of proceptive desire would be a general feeling of “horniness” that might emerge for no particular reason. The defining characteristic of proceptive desire is that it is highly motivating and often prompts individuals to seek sexual gratification. Arousability is quite different. It represents a person’s capacity to become interested in sex as a result of encountering certain situations or stimuli (such as the sexual advances of an attractive partner), even if the individual did not initially feel sexually motivated. The defining characteristic of arousability is that it is triggered by external cues or situations. As such, it can be thought of as situation-dependent [emphasis added] (Diamond, 2008).

Why does it matter whether the experience of a person or persons is an attraction based on proceptivity or arousability? It matters because inherent in all human beings is the longing to celebrate the varieties of sexual bliss, and the universal need for the human touch which can be found in participation in a carnal union. If this statement is true, then it follows that there has to be a re-defining, or at the very least a re-examination of the very definitions of sex, sexuality, gender etc. Toward this end, again, Dr. Diamond proposes a new model for defining, quantifying, and understanding sexuality and thus the expression of, and the engagement of, this one, uniquely human trait. She defines this new model as “A Dynamical Systems Approach to Sexuality” (Diamond, 2008). Please forgive me as I very purposely use a long excerpt from Dr. Diamond’s book, because I believe it to be vital that the reader grasp the concept of the Dynamical Systems Approach she is proposing and how relevant it is to the understanding not only of the diversities of Porn versus Erotica but also of human sexuality and sexual expression. There are two excerpts below. The first is cited from Dr. Lisa Diamond and the second from Dr. E. Thelen and Dr. L. B. Smith whom Dr. Diamond cites in her publication:

Dynamical Systems Models were originally developed by mathematicians and physicists to explain physical phenomena whose states varied over time, for example, swinging pendulums or cloud formations in the atmosphere. They analyze the multiple factors that determine the state of the system, to predict its pattern of change over time, which otherwise might seem random, arbitrary, and abrupt. In the late 1980s, a number of forward-thinking psychologists observed that the development of many complex human phenomena during infancy and childhood – such as language and motor skills – resembled dynamical systems. Specifically, they were characterized by periodic, abrupt, unpredictable spurts in skills and behaviors, contrary to classic models….

Dynamic Systems Models reject this idea, emphasizing instead that a person’s initial traits and subsequent environments are in constant, mutually influential interaction with one another, and that they come to progressively influence one another over time. As a result, you enter into each person-context interaction a slightly different person from the one you were at the last interaction. All your experiences are fundamentally shaped by what preceded them and set the stage for what follows.

As the psychologist Esther Thelen summarized with respect to child development (Diamond, 2008):

How a child behaves depends not only on the immediate current situation but also on his or her continuous short and longer-term history of acting, the social situation, and the biological constraints he or she was born with. Every action has within it the traces of previous behavior. The child’s behavior, in turn, sculpts his or her environment, creating new opportunities and constraints’ (Thelen, 1994).

Essentially, what Dr. Diamond is proposing is something those in the Adult Industry, both actors and actresses, as well as Producers, Directors, technicians and the like, have known for years, and it is a distinct reason as to why the industry has been around for hundreds of years in one format or another: Sex, sexual attraction, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and even to some extent, gender itself, are “initial traits” which we, being human, are exposed to different,  “subsequent environments,” and these two factors “are in constant, mutually influential interaction with one another” which will “progressively influence one another over time.” Because of this fact, we will move from one “person-context interaction” to the next, “a slightly different person from the one (we) were at the last interaction.” In short then, all of our “experiences,” indeed our very existence living, breathing, and interacting with one another, “are fundamentally shaped by what preceded them and set the stage for what follows” (Diamond, 2008). The Adult Industry not only is aware of this fact, but in some sense, is a mirror reflection of, an active contributor to, and an influencer of, this very fact.

So then, what are the factors which create both stability and change in sex, sexual expression, sexual interaction, and sexual gratification and how can we better understand these factors so as to predict when they might possibly occur and why are we interested in Adult Entertainment? We are interested in this topic because of the above stated facts that film/media both reflect and influence, at the same time, the human condition. If this is the case then it stands to reason that Porn and Erotic film are going to both influence and reflect the participants and the consumers; and as such, all parties bear, whether they will accept it or not, equal responsibility in ensuring that such an influence is for the good of each party. Why?

It is increasingly clear that one of the ideas behind Erotic Film is to transcend its provocative subject and in so doing to add a third element or dimension: that of longing to celebrate the varieties of sexual bliss, and the universal need for the human touch which can be found in participation in a carnal union. Such a union may, in fact, carry deep within its caresses and/or expression, a hint of the divine: a divine, spiritual and metaphysical, as well as intangible and incorporeal, which exists in all human souls. An erotic film in most cases, for producers and participants, attempts to portray a perception of the human attraction between the participants, and the potential ecstasy that humans, through sexually joining, can share. Such a shared experience will not grow old, or become stale over time, whereas pornographic images generally do and as such tend to lead toward the more addictive behaviors exhibited by those who view such films and whose brazen and unashamed goal is simple and straightforward: titillation and immediate, intense arousal to cause an instantaneous stirring of the genitals. This is not to say that porn is either bad or good. It is merely an attempt to both quantify and qualify the reasons why both exist.

Admittedly, Erotic Film may wind up having the same effect on the viewer as was stated above. After all, it is the viewer of the film who is given the task of interpreting the final production. However, pornographers, and pornographic producers more often than not are far less motivated by the desire to faithfully represent what they may regard as beautiful or aesthetic. Rather, their undertaking is contrived to produce what they believe will turn the largest possible profit, (as always, stereotypical statements notwithstanding). Additionally, pornography is primarily a money-making venture. The very word porn, as stated at the beginning, invariably connotes a certain exploitation – at times degradation or desecration – of human sexuality. Many writers, producers, and Adult Film professionals and workers, (particularly feminists) have rightfully complained that when pornography, by objectifying women, reduces them to sex objects whose core value is to satisfy a man’s libidinous needs, it has bordered on the obscene and crossed the line from art to that of a simple sex transaction. Furthermore, when care, concern, tenderness, warmth, emotion, and feeling are all allowed to be presented, and indeed, strongly encouraged as being a part of the final outcome in the production of Erotic Film, said film will portray its subjects in a manner that accentuates and highlights their inner and outer radiance, and the work itself will appear to manifest a passionate and powerful affirmation of life and the pleasures of this world. Pornography, on the other hand, may be seen as being derogatory, exploitative, and almost barbaric in its egoistic lack of caring and concern. Pornography then, by its word definition, can be, in many cases, portrayed as literally sex without relationship.

It is this distinction which brings me to my final point: it is the human interaction, in other words the relationships which are built in the Erotic Film industry between the professional models participating in the film and the producers and technical professionals aiding in the completion of the final product, which may ultimately define the distinction between these two concepts.

Erotica and its sub category Erotic Film delve into how sex is a natural expression of and desire of being human and an expression of coupling which includes the sensuality of human touch, and that the sensation of this type of touch may be, for some individuals, necessary to their (our) very existence. It is part of a much larger, complex, interesting, and fuller, sensation and deeper story. It’s normal. It is just the act of ‘lovemaking.’ Review any Adult Erotic Film in which the relationship between the actors/actresses is clearly tender, endearing, caring, and involving mutual respect and warmth. The scenes and images will be diverse to be sure, yet there is always the underlying element of sensuality, sensitivity, affection and passion. In a truly Erotic Adult Film where all parties are willing participants, there is an acceptance and melding of bodies, nerve endings, and emotions which is readily portrayed in the final product and is an inescapable truth inherently seen by the viewer. The viewer may not know why he or she prefers this product over another film which is produced only for money and at the possible expense of its professional models; but they may instinctively recognize the difference, however subtle this difference may be. To quote Gloria Steinem:

There is always a spontaneous sense of people who are there because they want to be there out of shared pleasure… Now look at any depiction of sex in which there is clear force, or an unequal power that spells coercion… It may be very blatant… It may be much more subtle… In either case there is no sense of equal choice or equal power… The first is erotic: a mutually pleasurable, sexual expression between two people who have enough power to be there by positive choice… The second is pornographic: its message is violence, dominance and conquest. It is sex being used to reinforce some inequality, or to create one…”

The line between erotica and pornography can be extremely difficult to draw, as we have seen. One person’s erotica can be another person’s pornography. Yet, the real issue may be to discover what it is that promotes healthy sexuality, versus what depicts people as mere expendable sex objects who are only here to gratify our animalistic urges without any thought to their wellbeing as living, breathing, sentient, and ultimately, sexual, beings; beings who are to be respected, revered, and cared for as a unique creation and extension of our whole human existence. Pornography in the form of monetary exploitation of its workers will continue to be made as long as the public buys this product. Ultimately, if we believe there to be an abuse, debasement, and desecration of the individuals involved in the making of the product, by choosing not to use their services – and also by choosing not to pirate from free sites those films we actually DO believe to be Erotic Film – only then can we ensure that both the viewer and the individuals on screen have an erotic experience instead.

 

WORKS CITED

American Psychological Association (2011). sexuality-definitions.pdf. Retrieved January 24, 2016 from www.apa.com: https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/sexuality-definitions.pdf

American Psychological Association (2006) Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients Retrieved February 17, 2016 from www.apaoutside.org: http://apaoutside.apa.org/PubIntCSS/Public/pdfs/Guidelines-for-Psych-Practice-with-LGB-Clients.pdf

Gainor (2000) Gainor, K.A. (2000). Including transgender issues in lesbian, gay, and bisexual psychology: Implications for clinical practice and training. In B. Greene & G.L. Croom (Eds.), Psychological perspectives on lesbian and gay issues: Vol. 5. Education, research, and practice in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered psychology: A resource manual (pp. 131-160).

Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard (1953) Sexual behavior in the human female. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.

Klein (1993) The bisexual option. (2nd ed.). New York: Harrington Park.

Klein, Sepekoff, & Wolff (1985) Sexual orientation: A multivariable dynamic process. Journal of Homosexuality, 11(1/2), 35-49.

Shiveley & DeCecco (1977) Shively, M.G., and DeCecco, J.P. Components of sexual identity. J. Homosexuality. 1977;3:41-48.)

Diamond, L.M. (2008). Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire. Harvard Press.

Golden (1987) Diversity and variability in women’s sexual identities. In Boston Women’s Psychologies Collective (Eds.), Lesbian psychologies: Explorations and challenges (pp. 19-34). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Peplau & Garnets (2000) Issues in psychotherapy with lesbians and gay men: A survey of psychologists. American Psychologist, 46, 964-972.

Croteau, D., Hoynes, W., & Milan S. (2008) Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences.

Thelen, E.A. (1994). A dynamic systems approach to the development of cognition and action. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.

Steinem, G. (1978) Erotica and Pornography: A Clear and Present Difference. Ms. November 1978, p. 53-54. 

 

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Erotica versus Porn: Which do you support? Part II

About the author: SexArt member BlackWing has a Bachelor of Science in Health and Safety Education, minor in Physiology, and a Master of Science in Computer Science, Network Engineering Concentration. BlackWing is also a fully qualified and experienced paramedic and personal fitness trainer who enjoys outdoor activities, running, martial arts, teaching, mentoring, and hacking.

Part I of this series (published November 30th 2015) examined the cultural, etymological, and societal definitions of erotica and pornography. Part II of this series examines the potential differences between these two as it may or may not apply to the professionals working in each industry. The reader should be aware that although this information is drawn from statistical analysis and data that is clearly published, and although there will be generalizations drawn, in no way is the information provided here intended to stigmatize, define, and/or stereotype any one group or person(s), or industries as whole. The purpose of this article is to open a healthy debate regarding the differences and similarities between these two subjects.

Part II

In 2012, a study refuted various claims of the so-called “Damaged Goods Hypothesis,” which is often cited by those who seek to denigrate the Adult Industry. The results of this study suggested that: “Porn actresses were more likely to identify as bisexual, first had sex at an earlier age, had more sexual partners, were more concerned about contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and enjoyed sex more than the matched sample, although there were no differences in incidence of CSA [child sexual abuse] … porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality compared to the matched group.” i

The reader should take note that the abovementioned study was published in The Journal of Sex Research, which is a peer-reviewed academic journal. As such this research and subsequent analysis lends significant credibility to the findings of the study. An analysis of this study by Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals is quite illuminating: “…Some women who work in the adult industry are more adjusted in some respects relative to some ‘typical’ women. This study never once suggests ALL of anyone about anything and goes so far as to out-and-out declare that its findings are NOT representative of ALL porn performers. This is good.” ii  This statement by Dr. Tibbals is key for two compelling reasons: upon reading the research it is clear that the numbers debunk the myth that most, if not all, women who work as porn actresses are “Damaged Goods,” but equally importantly, clearly state that the researchers are in no way making sweeping claims as to the universality or otherwise of evidence that suggests that porn actresses are more well adjusted than women who are not in the industry – meaning there are no false, unscientific, quintessential claims being made by the researchers regarding porn actresses and those who are not porn actresses.

Furthermore, there is substantial, anecdotal evidence from Erotic Film Professionals themselves to support the claim that the relationships built in the Adult Erotic Film industry are caring, supportive, interactive, and professional; not to mention the fact that many of the professionals who participate in said industry appear, on the basis of this and a few other studies, to have a better, more well adjusted view of sex, sexuality, and the expression and enjoyment of both – albeit such studies are few and far between, possibly due to the stigmatization of the Adult Film Industry as a whole.

There are issues with the study, as Dr. Tibbals and the researchers themselves point out. The study is not generalizable, meaning that while there were a significant number of women included in the study, their numbers were relatively low in comparison to the numbers who work in the industry as a whole. The second issue pointed out by Dr. Tibbals is that there was no clear definition as to what criteria constitutes a porn actress and what criteria does not. Finally, as the researchers themselves point out: “…some of the measures were problematic. Some measures used for sexual behaviors and attitudes were single-item indicators with unknown validities and reliabilities. As an example, participants were asked if they were victims of CSA without further clarifications or definitions. Thus, it is quite possible that a given behavior in a particular situation may have been perceived as CSA by one individual but not by another. Another issue with regard to measures is that education was not examined. Education has been found to be related to a variety of sex-related constructs and would have been a sound matching variable, and its inclusion should be strongly considered in future studies.” iii

This statement by the researchers is telling. Sexual attitudes and behaviors were single line items and thus could be confusing when the questionnaire was administered to the participants, (i.e. does this mean that?), and most significantly, the level of education of the participants was not verified nor taken into account; as Dr. Tabbals points out, this is quite an “amateurish mistake,” given that many of the study’s participants are either in or just leaving college. The question is, why does any of this matter? It matters because of the initial findings of the study: “porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality compared to the matched group.” The next question is, if this is even partially correct: why is this the case?

A possible explanation for this fact could be that the industry as a whole is undergoing a tremendous and significant change. This change is characterized by the introduction of diverse groups of individuals who bring into the profession their own cultural, moral, ethical, and world views, and this change is largely driven by the emergence of more female directors. For example, just recently (as of this writing) an article by writer Nikki Gloudeman appeared on the Huffington Post blog site titled “4 Female Adult Film Producers Talk Porn For Women.” iv  The Directors interviewed – Angie Rowntree, Anna Frolicme, Jacky St. James, and Erika Lust – all agreed that for them, filming, directing, shooting, and producing Adult Film is about “Being able to explore our sexuality and our fantasies in a variety of ways, especially through film, [that] can be helpful in our own self discovery and sexual development,” (James). By bringing the female perspective into the production, casting and directing of Adult Film, the industry as a whole is raised to a level of professionalism that is beneficial to both men and women. Additionally, while all four Directors have various opinions on the subject of erotica verses porn, all four agreed that while the line between what is Erotic Film and what is Pornographic Film is extremely blurred and in some cases nonexistent; in their personal and professional opinion as summed up by Frolicme, Erotic Film “…offers more story depth and plays upon the fantasy aspect, encouraging the watcher to imagine themselves involved in the scene….” She goes on to state that, “I simply wanted to create arousing sexy films that illustrate women having their wicked ways and men adoring their women, treating them with the respect and pleasure they desire and deserve, and try to bring real passion back into our view of sex.” If this is the case then it helps to explain why there does now tend to be an increase in individuals who are beginning to enter the industry of Adult Film on a voluntary basis as a chosen profession. Which reiterates the question raised in the first part of this article: Do the professionals in both industries, (meaning the performers), see a difference?

Enter professional photographers Paulie and Pauline, who published the photo documentary called “Off the set: porn stars and their partners, by Paulie and Pauline,” v  which may shed some light on this question. In the early to mid 2000s they began documenting professional adult models and their partners through photography. In mainstream media, where most if not all Adult Film professionals are stereotypically categorized as “jaded, emotionally detached individuals who live in a hedonistic blur, void of any real intimate relationships,” they discovered that the individual couples they worked with and met were deeply committed couples who shared higher levels of intimacy, thrived on the strength of their relationships, and “explained that their performances were an extension of their own kinky sexuality.” In the course of this photo-documentary it became apparent, again and again, that far from the meaningless and mindless sex sterotypically expected of the adult film industry, “There are definitely more people now who are producing scenes and videos that reflect individuals, rather than bodies. The sex may still be explicit, but there is an increasing focus on real chemistry between partners and real pleasure…” This chemistry is clearly visible in the films produced which prize illustrating, depicting and mirroring human sexual interaction through physical touch as a means of affection, support, friendship and tenderness, as well as desire, passion and a yearning for the physical closeness of a safe (and I use this term loosely), sensual, sexual encounter between consenting individuals.

Given this information, are we now at a point where we can begin to differentiate between what is Erotic Film and what is Pornographic Film? That the individuals and the professionals who help produce these sensual, sexual, cinematic features care deeply for each other as committed couples and friends? What about the consumers? Do the consumers actually see a difference? Does this matter?

 

WORKS CITED

[1] Griffith, J., Mitchell, S., Hart, C., Adams, L., & Gu, L. (2012). Pornography Actresses: An Assessment of the Damaged Goods Hypothesis Journal of Sex Research, 1–12 DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2012.719168

ii An Assessment of the Damaged Goods Hypothesis (2012), Tibbals, Chauntelle, Dr., http://www.chauntelletibbals.com/damaged-goods-hypothesis/#.VkQRyIR_fiC

iii An Assessment of the Damaged Goods Hypothesis (2012), Tibbals, Chauntelle, Dr., http://www.chauntelletibbals.com/damaged-goods-hypothesis/#.VkQRyIR_fiC

iv  “4 Female Adult Film Producers Talk Porn For Women,” Gloudeman, N., www.huffingtonpost.com. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nikki-gloudeman/4-female-adult-film-producers-talk-porn-for-women_b_6148252.html

v Off the set: porn stars and their partners, by Paulie and Pauline, http://www.co-mag.net/2010/paulie-and-pauline/

 

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Why strong women like bondage

This is adapted from something I originally posted on the blog of our kinky little sister site, The Life Erotic. It seems appropriate to share it with you here at SexArt now, as today’s new movie “Devotion” features some mild but very arousing bondage play between naughty Leila Smith and curvy Nekane. It follows a recent threeway, “What You Want,” that showed two horny girls physically restraining and sharing one lucky guy.

It’s fun, it’s playful and it’s consensual… but for some it’s a step too far. And while I think few will object to seeing the girls in charge, having their wicked way with a male ‘victim,’ I wonder how you would feel if the tables were turned and we showed a girl being restrained by a man? It might even have you asking the uneasy question: Is bondage anti-feminist?

Well, it depends who you believe.

If you study the feminist literature, you’ll find a wide range of opinions. In the seventies, the prevailing view was that BDSM was a form of women-hating violence; proponents of this viewpoint suggest that women who enjoy being submissive only like it because they have been led to believe it is expected of them by sexist power structures. However, since then other theories have emerged. Some feminist writers believe that BDSM is an expression of sexual freedom, and therefore is actually an empowering act.

So here’s the thing: I consider myself a free, confident, liberated bisexual woman; and yet I do enjoy a little domination and rough play – spanking, being held down, disciplined… you know the kind of thing. It makes me feel naughty, dirty and desired. Does that make me a hypocrite, a bad feminist?

I’m no psychologist, but I suspect that because I spend all day being strong, efficient and capable, making decisions, getting things done, it’s a major aphrodisiac to surrender control to someone else. It’s a pure jolt of sexual adrenaline that doesn’t translate to any other area of my life. In other words, I find it thrilling to be told what to do in the bedroom, but you’d better not try it in the boardroom (unless you’re fucking me on the desk… that would be hot!).

BDSM, to me, is about desire. It’s about somebody knowing, very clearly, exactly what he or she wants from me. It’s about the fierce pleasure that lies in giving pleasure. It’s about trust, risk and being brave enough to relinquish control, to open oneself up to whatever comes next.

In fact, it has been argued that in BDSM play, the submissive person is the one with the power, as they actually control what happens – for example, by using a ‘safe’ word. Power games take place in a safe psychological space, where authentic desires are acknowledged, rules are observed and external pressures to behave in a certain way can be escaped.

Do we really have to reconcile our sexual self to the self we present in other areas of our life – or can we allow ourselves the freedom to experiment, to experience pleasure without limits, and without shame? Ultimately, I think defining female sexuality in terms of dominant/submissive is as limiting and stereotypical as lesbian/straight or butch/femme.

I’ll just do what turns me on.

 

By the way, if you enjoy a little walk on the wild side, you might enjoy some of my erotic stories on the blog at The Life Erotic… you don’t have to be a TLE member to read it, and I’d love to know what you think.

 

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Erotica versus Porn: Which do you support? Part 1

About the author: SexArt member BlackWing has a Bachelor of Science in Health and Safety Education, minor in Physiology, and a Master of Science in Computer Science, Network Engineering Concentration. BlackWing is also a fully qualified and experienced paramedic and personal fitness trainer who enjoys outdoor activities, running, martial arts, teaching, mentoring, and hacking.

The following article is Part I of a three part series, which will explore the similarities and differences between Erotica versus Porn as it applies to Art and to the Adult Film industry in particular. Part I of this series examines the cultural, etymological, and societal definitions of erotica and pornography. The reader should be aware that although this information is drawn from statistical analysis and published data, and although there will be generalizations drawn, in no way is the information provided here intended to stigmatize, define, and/or stereotype any one group, persons, or industries as a whole. The purpose of this article is to open a healthy debate regarding the similarities and differences between these two subjects.

Erotica Versus Porn: Which do you support?

“Human beings seem to be the only animals that experience the same sex drive and pleasure when we can and cannot conceive.” – Gloria Steinem

Part I

A “touch-less” society can lead to failure to thrive and death in newborn babies, something that came to light in the early 1900s. Dr. Luther Emmett Holt, then known as one of America's first and finest pediatricians, came to the conclusion that parents spoiled their children by cuddling and holding them too much. Parents wishing to be on the cutting edge of good child rearing took notice and began following this newly touted theory. Thus began the trend of “hands-off parenting” and “a child should be seen and not heard.” Within a few short years of Dr. Holt’s egocentric pronunciation, doctors across the United States began to notice a deadly trend: a catastrophic increase in infant deaths, particularly in seemingly healthy babies. The medical studies which followed revealed that these infants experienced “failure to thrive,” simply because they were not getting enough human contact through touch. There are numerous studies of infants in orphanages who suffered from touch deprivation and achieved only half of the height normal for their age.i

Why is this an important fact? Because it is well known that we, as a species of the animal kingdom, are the only species who not only have developed the unique capacity for human, spoken language, yet also the unique capacity for human touch; and, as we become adults, this capacity to experience the pleasures of touch in the form of sexual expression is completely independent of the need for procreation for the purposes of extending the life span of our species. Thus enters the debate of Erotica versus Porn. Which is which, and which of these two are we supporting? Why does this matter? If it does matter, then is Erotica “better than” Porn? More importantly, do the professionals in both industries see a difference? Do we as the consumers see a difference? Finally, how does our consumption of both affect those working in these industries?

Pornography is defined as “sexually explicit videos, photographs, writings, or the like, whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal,”ii and its origins come from the ancient Greek word pornographos meaning the writing of harlots, and from porne, a harlot + graphein meaning to write. The history of the word pornography can be further delved into. In 1843 a writer recorded pornography as being of or referring to an "ancient obscene painting, especially in temples of Bacchus.” In the French language the word hails from pornographie originally meaning, or referring to, a person who was "bought, purchased" (with an original notion, probably, of "female slave sold for prostitution").iii  From these definitions and from the word origin itself it is clear that the word pornography is meant to imply in some form or fashion sex and/or sexual acts, or sexually explicit material which is used for the sole purpose of eliciting some form of sexual arousal and, most importantly, to mean that some form of monetary trade “for services rendered,” occurs. With this monetary transaction and subsequent delivery of said “services” there is usually the result of one human having power over the other.

Erotica, on the other hand, is defined as “literature or art dealing with sexual love.”iv The word erotica comes from the Greek word eros, and the neuter, plural word erotikós.vAs the reader can see there is an extremely blurred line between what types of literature, art, paintings etc. constitute porn and what of these same artistic expressions constitute erotica. While American and European courts have yet to define the difference between these two terms, still struggle with what is settled as pornography versus erotica, and because the etymological definitions of the two words tend to confuse this issue even more, there does seem to be one underlying concept which is gaining ground as a possible defining element between the two: the purpose or motive behind the acts or depictions themselves, and in film, this motive is expressed in terms of the quality, type, and sexual expression of the human touch between the characters participating/acting in the films.

Because such key distinctions are gaining ground, some have argued that pornography has a tendency toward graphic depiction of sexually explicit scenes, while erotica "seeks to tell a story that involves sexual themes that include a more plausible depiction of human sexuality than (is portrayed) in pornography.”vi Indeed, for us as humans, only we have the capacity to experience the act of sex itself as a way of giving and receiving physical, mental, emotional, pleasure, touch, and comfort, as a result of the bonding that occurs during sex. Due to the fact that we as humans explore our sexuality as completely separate from procreation, and that this exploration between adults, when engaged in in a healthy, consenting way, can and should delve into desire, love, sexuality, human anatomy and passion through the mystery and intrigue of the physical touch which occurs during sex and sexual acts, sexual acts between said consenting adults are subconsciously thought of by most, if not all of us, as an act of very realistic tenderness with “dangerous” consequences: it allows us to connect to another human being in a way that is completely intimate and open and thus in some ways bares the core of our nature to the other consenting participant(s). The very existence of this inexplicable, potential connection between the participants involved in the mutually reciprocated “carnal act,” is what makes “erotica” and “pornography” both so fundamentally different yet so confusing as to potentially cause immediate “shock” or a sense of “disgust” towards anyone who engages in, uses, or in any way participates in the creation of, production of, and dissemination of, either one. Quite frankly, as humans, we prefer anonymity and become uncomfortable with any person(s) or circumstance(s) which question or shed light on our deepest desires which are to be seen for who we are: thinking, feeling, sexual beings. And most of us, if we were to be honest with ourselves and/or each other, usually prefer to believe that if we do not discuss the issues of our desires, sexuality, and sexual expressions, they therefore must not exist. Both the creation of Erotica and Pornography shed blinding light on all three of these items with unintentional but brutal impartiality and honesty.

Add to these facts that a movie, an art depiction, a picture, etc. might have elements of both the erotic and the pornographic, and it must ultimately be left to the viewer to subjectively determine what is erotic versus pornographic in their own minds. However, that being said erotica has arisen as an art form, particularly in the Adult Film industry as beginning to “out pace” porn in terms of its production and consumption for viewers. There is some speculation that because erotica tends to have a compelling story, well-developed characters, particularly the female characters, ultimately conveys an underlying, mostly positive message, and tends to have well-crafted sex scenes integral to the story which may or may not necessarily arouse the audience; it is therefore seen as a movie that portrays sex contextually and has artistic merit. (An example of this would be the erotic film “Like Water for Chocolate.”)

It goes without saying, but nevertheless must be noted that, speaking in terms of concrete reality, (and I use this definition very loosely), anyone who believes they can draw a hard and fast line between the two is greatly mistaken. Both erotica and porn are designed to arouse, yet they will, for the most part, take very different pathways to that same destination. Additionally, erotica and porn are also subjective terms; what is classified or defined in one person’s mind as erotic and what is classified or defined in another person’s mind as pornographic is going to be utterly, completely, and distinctly different and unappealing to each other. It is very clear that the criterion, which is used to differentiate Erotic Film from Pornographic Film, is embedded in personal moral, aesthetic, religious, and cultural values. It is also clear that many cultures and societies regard these two orientations to the expression of human sexuality as being superimposed upon one another and/or being essentially identical. However they actually do exist on very different planes when one takes into account the participants involved. Herein lies the crux of the argument: since the viewer’s opinion of the distinction between these two is subjective then perhaps further examination needs to be extended to the performers of these two types of films themselves?

In Part II of this series we will examine the professionals both in front of and behind the camera who produce these features to see if any common correlations can be drawn to differentiate their views on these two subjects. In the meantime we would like to elicit comments from both the consumers and the professionals in the Adult Film Industry. What are your viewpoints, opinions, and ideas? What are your experiences? Please feel free to engage in this discussion before the next installment as hosted by SexArt.

 

WORKS CITED

iThe Care and Feeding of Children,” Dr. Luther Emmett Holt, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther_Emmett_Holt

ii "pornography," Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 11 Nov. 2015. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pornography

iii "pornography." Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 11 Nov. 2015. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pornography

iv  "erotica." Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 11 Nov. 2015. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/erotica

v "erotica." Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 11 Nov. 2015. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/erotica.

vi "Erotica,”  Griffith, J., Mitchell, S., Hart, C., Adams, L., & Gu, L. (2012). Pornography Actresses: An Assessment of the Damaged Goods Hypothesis Journal of Sex Research, 1–12 DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2012.719168 Is Not Pornography". William J. Gehrke. The Tech. December 10, 1996.

 

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Men who like porn respect women more: the facts!

It’s a stereotype I’m sure we’re all familiar with. Men who watch adult movies have a negative attitude to women, and imagine they are all brainless nymphos, right? Well, as a woman who enjoys (high-class) adult entertainment, I can certainly understand how that idea could arise. So much mainstream porn portrays women as mindless sluts, bimbos or even – if you really plumb the depths – as victims of male sexual brutality. Disappointment and disgust with this type of cliché was what led me to SexArt. I particularly enjoy the fact that in SexArt movies, men and women (or women and women!) are equal partners in the action… and more often than not, it’s the girls that call the shots.

However, a study published recently in The Journal of Sex Research suggests that the kneejerk moral condemnation of men who enjoy porn is factually incorrect; in fact, the study’s findings suggest that men who regularly watch pornography actually think MORE HIGHLY of women in general than those who don’t. The study is titled ‘Is Pornography Really about ‘Making Hate to Women’? Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian Attitudes Than Nonusers in a Representative American Sample,’ and you can read it in full HERE.

One of the study authors, Taylor Kohut, did a Q&A session on ResearchGate.net, and his responses make interesting reading. You can read the full article HERE, but this is a key excerpt:

RG: Your hypothesis was that porn watchers weren’t into gender equality. What did you find out?

TK: You’re right, according to radical feminist theory, pornography users should hold more gender non-egalitarian attitudes than non-users of pornography. We tested this basic hypothesis across five variables pulled from American General Social Survey data and did not find any supportive evidence. In fact, pornography users were more supportive of women in politics, more supportive of women working outside the home, and more supportive of women’s access to abortion, than were non-users of pornography.

Are men who enjoy adult entertainment likely to hold more liberal views in general? That's one possibility explored by the study authors. It's certainly refreshing to see research that challenges the notion that porn objectifies women, takes away their sexual power and somehow dehumanises them. That's just not something that I have observed; in fact I would say that women enjoy a higher status and more control in the adult industry than in any other business I've been a part of. I think it's probably significant that the majority of our artists work in teams that have women in key roles, as indeed the MetArt Network does (and I'm not just talking about yours truly here! Girl Power is integral to the way this company operates). 

From a purely personal viewpoint, what I’ve discovered since I’ve been involved with SexArt and its sister sites, including MetArt and VivThomas, is that by and large our members seem to be extremely courteous, fair-minded and respectful individuals. I think that has a lot to do with the overall style and ethos of the MetArt Network as a whole – I dare say any site attracts the members it deserves! – but I take it as a positive sign that the findings of this study are representative of a bigger truth. Men who like porn like women; and men who like high-class porn like women a lot! Maybe it’s time for society to stop vilifying porn users and accept erotica as a healthy, safe and wholesome way of exploring sexuality and physical relationships. 

 

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European Love and Sexuality vs. American Love and Sexuality

About the author: SexArt member BlackWing has a Bachelor of Science in Health and Safety Education, minor in Physiology, and a Master of Science in Computer Science, Network Engineering Concentration. She is also a fully qualified and experienced paramedic and personal fitness trainer. She enjoys outdoor activities, running, martial arts, teaching, mentoring, and hacking.

We Americans have a long history of independence and exceptionalism – or at least we like to think we do. We tend to think that because we began the great experiment of a Democracy by breaking away from our mother country England, and began an entirely new form of self governing while at the same time conquering the great vastness of the North American Continent, we do everything better than everyone else and twice as good every other day. Yet our “elitism” may in fact be killing us – or possibly killing our youth. Our views on love and sexuality reflect our deep parochial and provincial Protestant roots. Our founding forefathers (and mothers!) came here for the sole purpose of being able to practice their religious beliefs. And while this “freedom of religion” is inherent in our DNA, given the state of our politics and our tendencies towards the extremes is it any wonder that our teen pregnancy rates and abortion rates, as well as our STD rates, are among the highest, if not THE highest, in the world? Which begs the question: are we really doing things better than our European ancestors? To answer this question, let’s look at the facts…

Internationalcomparisons.org is a “comprehensive research site on advanced democracies” that provides objective information on international quality of life indicators. Their most recent research data for years 2008-2011 per 1000 girls/women ages 15-19 show that of the 11 countries surveyed, the United States had the highest adolescent birth rate at 34.2%. The next highest was our mother country, the UK, at 25.1%. Compare this figure to the Netherlands at 9.3%, Germany at 8.2%, Denmark at 4.5%, Sweden at 5.9%, France at 11.9% and Italy at 6.5% (International Comparisons).  

So why the difference, one may ask? Research shows that American views on sex, sexuality, sex education, marriage, and relational commitments may possibly be the issue. Due to our Puritan historical roots we tend to believe that love and sex are one and the same and absolutely cannot be mutually exclusive. Yet is this realistic? For instance, far-right fundamentalists who favour outlawing abortion and overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 cannot grasp the fact that two of the things they greatly oppose, which are contraception and comprehensive sex education programs, absolutely have been proven to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and therefore, reduce the need for abortions. 

Why are these points important? They are important because it is becoming increasingly clear that European views on sex, sexuality, monogamy and marriage are not only vastly different from the American view, but may actually be healthier. Let’s face facts: marriage (Married Love) is for stability, friendship, and potentially raising children; sexual desire (Romantic Love) is an adrenaline rush of highs and lows, sexual madness, the romance of being appreciated by a new person, the joys of flirting, pursuing, and surreptitious coupling. Many Americans believe that “romantic love” is the same as “married love,” when in fact they are diametrically opposed. Romantic love (or in reality, sexual desire) is a delusional, brief insanity, while married love is pragmatic, long lasting and sane. Europeans know this fact inherently while Americans tend to fight it tooth and nail. Some of course will disagree – so let’s again go to the facts.

Sexual desire is defined by Regan as “a wish, need, or drive to seek out sexual objects or to engage in sexual activities” (Regan). Romantic love is defined as “the constellations of behaviours, cognitions, and emotions associated with a desire to enter or maintain a close relationship with a specific other person,” (Aron and Aron). Biochemically, biologically and physiologically, researchers Diamond and Dickerson found that there are areas of the human brain which are stimulated in a similar fashion in both romantic love (i.e. “sexual desire”) and married love (Diamond and Dickerson). However, they also found that pure sexual desire also stimulates different parts of the human brain, which are NOT stimulated in committed, long-term, emotionally invested relationships. They also discovered that some areas of the human brain are possibly stimulated in both cases, thus overlapping in the biochemical response neurologically in both committed relationships and those involving “pure” sexual desire. Thus future research is needed to determine if certain types of sexual desire may possibly be independent of married love experientially and neurologically.

If this is the case, then the increase in polyamorous relationships in the US (which are more standard in some European cultures) might indeed be a more practical, pragmatic, and sensible (not to mention mature) way to view relationships. Polyamorous is a term used to refer to individuals who do not hold to the view that sensual/sexual and relational/interpersonal exclusivity are necessary for profound, faithful, long-term loving relationships. “Sex is not essentially a primary focus in Polyamorous relationships, which usually consist of people seeking to build long-term relationships with more than one person on reciprocally agreeable grounds, and sex as only one aspect of their relationships. For many, such relationships are ideally built upon values of trust, loyalty and the negotiation of boundaries, as well as overcoming jealousy and possessiveness, and rejecting restrictive cultural standards” (wikipedia.org). 

Scientifically, biologically, and psychologically speaking, many Americans do comprehend all of the above information; we’re just not sure how it’s practiced. Yet if we were to look at the adult erotic film industry we might be able to begin to understand this concept. For instance, at SexArt and its family of websites, all of the models (male and female) demonstrate repeatedly their respect, fondness and affection for each other in a most emotionally healthy way. Yes, it is a profession; however there appears to be great care given to each other, and this is also apparent when we see “behind the scenes” video clips. Such care is not confined to the models but is obviously a part of the interaction of all parties working on the films – technical, directorial, production and so on – although it is considered “crossing the professional line” for the film crew to engage in physical intimacy with the models.

Coming from a parochial and conservative (read “RIGID religious culture), I honestly have trouble trying to wrap my head around the fact that these relationships appear to be so healthy – emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Let’s face it: European viewpoints on the physical and on sex (and alcohol) in particular are so vastly different and way more openly discussed than in the US, yet in most of the “civilized” countries which are a part of the EU, teen pregnancy is lower, alcoholism is lower, crime is lower. As an American I have to wonder, “How is this working?” I mean, seriously? No facetiousness intended at all here. How in the world do these relationships remain so healthy, strong, and committed to each other: as friends, as partners, as committed couples? And how is it possible that these individuals are so healthy emotionally and psychologically (as well as physically, obviously) in regards to their sexual nature and the expression of that nature? I think if half the western world could wrap their head around this concept it might go a long way towards dispelling the belief of adult erotica being a “nasty, horrible, abusive, dirty industry.”

Since America as a country is a relatively young one, (we are only a mere 239 years old!) we might need a bit more maturity as a culture in order for us to find another way of loving. Perhaps we need to think of a “loving” relationship as being one in which two deeply committed friends and soul mates share a bond that is deep and abiding, and that this steadfast and enduring love relationship is so pervasive and continuous that we might actually dare to experience other loves and even share them with each other. Such a relationship would take as a given that the friendship that endures between the lovers is more vital than the sexual love that flares between two friends. Many of us feel like we are aliens on a strange planet throughout most of our lives and because of this we, as humans, need relationships, nurturing, and closeness. Yet we also may – according to the facts and new research – occasionally need to go wild with another individual to whom we are sexually attracted; not because we do not “love” our partner, but because we know that what we share with that one special person is something different entirely than what we have ever found with anyone else, and because of this fact, we have no need of concern that there is “betrayal.”

It is clear in the movies on SexArt that the participants (both male and female) may have evolved beyond the territoriality that is inherent in us as a human species. It is also clear that many European cultures are moving towards such an evolution at a faster pace than the United States. One must remember that we as humans really are territorial by nature and tend towards jealousy if we feel threatened. A relationship like the one I describe above, and like those that appear to be exhibited by the participants in the industry, must obviously feel complete enough, fulfilled enough, and separate yet equal enough to not fear the destruction of the relationship from a brief coupling that is based purely on sexual desire and mutual affection. Such relationships have to presuppose emotional equality, material equality, and intellectual equality. And there absolutely have to be firm, unbreakable ground rules of honesty, mutual respect, and trust. If we as humans make the mistake of assuming a wedding ring or any symbol of commitment invariably acts as a substitute for chains, then “rebellion” in the relationship(s) will occur and escalate into an all out “world war.” The freedom to love must be respected, freely given by both individuals and must always guard against its greatest enemy: resentment. Perhaps we can learn these lessons from the professionals in the adult industry, as well as taking our cue from our European brothers and sisters.

 

WORKS CITED

Aron, AP and EN Aron. "Love and Sexuality" McKinney, K. & Sprecher, S. Sexuality in Close Relationships. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, n.d. 25-48.

Diamond, Lisa M. and Janna A. Dickerson. "The Neuroimaging of Love and Desire: Review and Future Directions." Clinical Neuropsychiatry 2012.

International Comparisons. www.internationalcomparisons.org. 2015. [16 August 2015] .

Regan, PC. "Of Lust and Love: Beliefs About The Role of Sexual Desire in Romatic Relationships." Personal Relationships 1998: 139-157.

 

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    Buddy 5 hours ago

    The oil lighting makes this so very very sexy !! Katy is do tiny and I love her small body and small breasts the are so perky !! She is so sexy and she is so sensitive in her clit the way she enjoys rubbing it on his leg and especially on his hard cock makes it so so sexy !! Then her sigh when she sticks his hard cock into herself WOW , Clearly one of the best videos ever !! It is a dissapointment that he doesn't cum in her either in her pussy or her mouth .. He has beautiful Cock and cum if I were the girl I would want to feel the hot jism cum into me !!

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    A very gorgeous lady1

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    freeborn2a 24 hours ago

    so well put, Kat! deliciously filthy and transgressive. Emily messy as ever, in full-on cockplay. she knows how to act the slut, and get off on it. and I am so happy, because it gets me off too!

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    she's a woman who appreciates that the dirtier it is, the hotter it is...

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    i like a girl who goes both ways. or do i mean 'cums'?

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    Great movie!

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