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Literary erotica: a straight woman’s journey through porn

The art of erotica for women is elusive and beautiful. I specify for women because erotica for men is — arguably — a different creature altogether.

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By Lady Oracle (Sexpert) – Email

Print Edition: September 17, 2014

Anais_Nin_Wikipedia

The art of erotica for women is elusive and beautiful. I specify for women because erotica for men is — arguably — a different creature altogether. This isn’t an observation of the differences in male and female taste, but rather the creation of erotic art in a world where women are subjected to every whim and desire of the male gaze.

Some generalize and say women aren’t visual, but this isn’t true; if I could find porn seeking to satisfy me, a female, I’m sure I’d get off. But to find this porn — which is few and far between — I’d have to wade through millions of videos and pictures catering to men.

And I’ve done just that on a search for my kind of porn. In this day and age, everything is available for any desire — food, technology, and especially sex. I wanted something to turn me on and to make me feel sexually empowered. I learned a few things on the way.Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 3.18.41 PM

The main thing I discovered was that it’s no fun watching porn when the target audience is obviously not you. It is very clear when watching or reading pornography or erotica who the intended audience is: who is being satisfied? That question is more complicated when you understand that — for example — in Pirates XXX, when badass lady-pirate Serena demands that Captain Stagnetti fuck her, the intention is not to please the female audience.

I clicked my way through the internet, watched a few movies, read a few comics. I liked the comics, notably Oglaf.com, because they are drawings rather than real people. Watching real people made me question the ethics of pornography — and when you’re questioning ethics, you’re not getting off.

When I ask men who look at porn, they say that those women weren’t hurt. They say these pictures and videos were posted as a result of their own free will. They say porn stars get paid.

Whose free will? The pressure for women to physically appeal to men runs incredibly deep. Would these women be posting images if they weren’t imbued with the idea that we as women must cater to man’s every desire? That if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be worthy? Would women being paid to do sexual acts for a camera be there if it weren’t for the billion-dollar industry?

It’s common knowledge that the mainstream porn industry is brutal for women. The misrepresentation of pleasure in the industry leads to the normalizing of specific acts and expectations in sexual experience. What is degradation? Is ejaculation on faces normal? Is deep-throating normal? Porn is plentiful and easily accessible, and it warps ideas of how women experience pleasure.

I discussed the recent leak of celebrity nude photos with a male friend of mine. He said he downloaded a few photos. I wondered how so many men are able to click a button without thinking about who is being hurt. Why do men feel like they are entitled to what is ultimately a disrespectful invasion of privacy? Did the people clicking those links wonder  how those women felt about the leaked images?

So, internet porn has never gotten me off. It’s too blunt, too mechanical, too much flesh and not enough spirit. I feel too much like I’m wandering in an artificial world that wasn’t made for me. How do I become sexually empowered when I constantly wonder what female sexual empowerment is? Is the idea simply another tool to cater to the patriarchal system?

I recently read Delta of Venus, a beautiful book of erotica written by Anaïs Nin in the 1940s. She wrote this for a dollar a page, for a mysterious patron. After every story she would write, the patron would advise her to “leave out the poetry” and instead “concentrate on sex.” Nin became so frustrated by these instructions that she wrote a letter to him; this letter almost perfectly captures my feelings about what erotica and porn should and should not be.

She writes that “sex loses all its power and magic when it becomes explicit, mechanical, overdone, when it becomes a mechanistic obsession.” To me, “explicit, mechanical, overdone,” describes the mainstream porn industry perfectly. Where does the power lie?

To Nin, erotica should breathe both poetry and sex. To focus solely on the flesh of sex, you miss the “fuel that ignites it: Intellectual, imaginative, romantic, emotional … This is what gives sex its surprising textures, its subtle transformations, its aphrodisiac elements.”

To take it and strip away the poetry, you starve it, “draining its blood.”

What do we want when we look at porn? Do we want a story, a person, passion? Is it solely to get off? I found that I needed more, and more I found in a predictable medium: literary erotica.

It is in the medium of literary erotica that women carry out their fantasies. Here we can colour the pages with sex and heart, with spirit, character, passion — and of course, really amazing orgasms.

Anais Nïn writes that “Sex must be mixed with tears, laughter, words, promises, scenes, jealousy, envy, all of the spices of fear, foreign travel, new faces, novels, stories, dreams, fantasies, music, dancing, opium, wine.” Literary erotica gives us all of this. We can hide from our reality in a good smutty regency novel where Mr. Darcy strips our stockings off and kisses our feet. We can have the BDSM experience from Mr. Grey. We can even attain a sexual empowerment in S.E.C.R.E.T — basically a fight club for women, but instead of fighting, it’s really good sex with hot men.

My journey through porn has led me to the reading and writing of romance novels. I love the cheesiness and the heaving bodices. I love the sexual journeys of characters from all walks — trembling virgins, battle-scarred vixens, women who need to heal and women who just need a good fuck. The medium of writing allows an ever-expanding minutiae of sex and passion to unfurl. As Nin wrote, “There are so many minor senses, all running like tributaries into the mainstream of sex, nourishing it. Only the united beat of sex and heart together can create ecstasy.”

Literary erotica is my haven, my sexual safe place. It’s for women, by women, and no one gets hurt. Hell, it’s an industry that I’m happy to support, and even write for. Literary erotica nourishes my soul, and I’m happy to find my place here.

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