Guest Post: Fake Geek Girl

Yesterday I posted a guest post from Elle Morrigan, who you should all go check out if you haven’t already. Today she returned the favor and posted a guest post from me on her site, which can be read here.

Hope you all enjoy it!

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Fan Fiction: An Interesting Role Reversal

I woke up this morning disappointed in myself. I have a blog about the Internet and sexuality. I’ve made thirteen posts already and not one of them has been about fan fiction. This is an oversight on my part that I’m going to fix right now.

Fan fiction is, as with many things I talk about, exactly what it sounds like. It’s stories written by fans of shows, books, movies etc. about those shows, books, movies etc. I’ll just be completely blunt here and point out that similar to 50 Shades of Grey (which was a fan fiction adapted into a novel), a lot of it is poorly written, and a lot of it is porn.

Of course, the poorly written part isn’t really a pressing issue here, so let’s go ahead and answer some questions about erotic fan fiction. First of all, how much fan fiction is pornographic? Thanks to a devoted tumblr user who dug deep into Archive of Our Own (or AO3 for short), one of the largest fan fiction sites, we have exact numbers on this based on the ratings (which function similar to movie ratings) authors give their fan fictions.

Source: The Daily Dot

Source: The Daily Dot

As you can see from this graph, depending on whether or not you count “mature” fics as being pornographic, between 18%-34% of all fan fiction is erotic. That’s a pretty big chunk. Not a majority, but large enough to be a significant part of the community. The tag data also revealed that while a minority of stories are pornographic, a majority are romantic to some degree.

graph1

Source: The Daily Dot

The tags “M/M”, “M/F” and “F/F” all refer to a fan fiction in which the central theme is a relationship between two men, a man and a woman, or two women, respectively. Most notable among the trends in this graph is that gay male romance (and likely erotica) far outnumbers straight romance. Why all the man on man action? Conveniently, the survey also collected data on AO3’s users, which revealed some trends about fan fiction writers and readers that put all this into context

As you can see, there are not a lot of men in the fan fiction community. This leads us in a very clear direction. If the majority of the community is female, and the majority of the stories are M/M, this implies that a large portion of erotic fan fiction is M/M erotica written by and for women who are sexually attracted to men. More in-depth data from the survey confirmed this theory, showing that the majority of M/M writers were straight, bisexual or pansexual women. In addition, gay male readers were in the vast minority as well, with male M/M fans being far outnumbered by female fans.

What this data suggests is that the fan fiction community has created a situation that is more or less the polar opposite of the problem with lesbian porn I mentioned in an earlier post. Rather than lesbian porn made by straight men that only appeals to other straight men, fan fiction is filled with gay porn made by women attracted to men (there were a lot of bi and pansexual respondents so to say straight seemed misleading) that appeals only to other women. This is similar to the anime/manga genre of Yaoi, gay romance and erotica targeted specifically at straight girls, which is considered a separate genre from gay romance and erotica targeted at men.

So if there’s one thing we can conclude about fan fiction from all of this, it’s that, above all, the fan fiction community is very much a place for women.

Especially women who like men.

And especially women who like men who like other men.

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Guest Post: A letter to the Adult Entertainment Industry

This post was written by Elle Morrigan of Some Offense Intended, a blog whose themes occasionally overlap with mine. Be sure to check out her blog and/or follow her on twitter if this is the sort of thing that floats your boat.

Please note that there’s some vulgarity in this post. As well as far more detailed descriptions of pornography than the ones in my porn posts. Consider yourself warned.

* * *

Dear Adult Entertainment Executives,

Howʼs it going? Sticky I bet. Iʼm writing to you today out of a genuine desire to help you, your business, and your impact on our sexual culture. As a young woman who doesnʼt get paid to have sex on camera, I think I can offer you a unique perspective and assist you in breaking into a potentially very lucrative market. Iʼm talking about the female demographic.

Did you know women are sexual beings as well? I mean actual living beings with sexual impulses, desires and money and not just impressively animate sex dolls. Stay with me here! I know this revaluation sounds radical and unlikely but hear me out. Traditionally, porn is a male pastime, and many girls won’t admit to surfing or having surfed the more perverted portions of the internet. So itʼs believed that women donʼt watch porn. This is simply untrue. All women have viewed porn at some point, and some do so regularly (though in a marginally smaller percentage). It is, however, true that most women won’t seek out pornography when they buckle down for a little “me time”. This often has less to do with lack of interest in the physical, primal aspects of sex and more to do with the way itʼs portrayed.

Porn caters to men and male fantasies. This is understandable, as men are the primary downloaders of adult content, but that still means that the adult entertainment industry is largely ignoring half of the population and missing out on a virtually untapped market.

Whenever I find myself wondering why it is I donʼt watch porn, a 20min search on Youporn with nothing to show for it but wasted time and a diminished desire to fap/slick reminds me why. You donʼt make porn for me. Watching porn makes me feel dirty and not in a good way. The kind of sex portrayed on adult sites isnʼt the kind of sex Iʼd like to have. I donʼt fantasize about having a dick rubbed all over my face or being nearly split in two while my sexual partner spits slurs targeted at my promiscuity. Itʼs degrading. Itʼs hard to masturbate when your mind keeps going back to how little that poor woman is actually enjoying being pounded by the sleazy, over-endowed man behind her. In spite of all the focus on the female body, thereʼs virtually no focus on female pleasure.

Porn has long been criticized for giving men unrealistic expectations of sex and women. Thatʼs also true. Sex should be fun for both parties involved. That means reciprocation. Say it with me: RECIPROCATION. This is the hardest thing to find on porn sites. By not showing the male partners making an effort, men are given a false idea of what is expected of them, which encourages a lack of acceptance/acknowledgment of female sexuality. No woman expects her man to be a sexual powerhouse. We just want to know you give a shit whether or not weʼre enjoying ourselves.

Specifically Iʼd like to bring up the use of oral sex. I donʼt mind a girl giving a blow job, but if that shit lasts eight minutes then the follow up better be more than 10 seconds of him returning the favor. Thatʼs not fair and by no means would it be considered OK in any real life sexual relationship. As a general rule, a gentleman should consider himself obligated to give as good as he got. Men donʼt have to earn gold in the Sex-Olympics every time, but they should at least be trying for silver.

Thereʼs also all the things that your porn stars are willing to do. Things your average woman is considerably less thrilled about repeating. 99% or women donʼt like having a guy bust his nut on her face or in her hair. As a man you probably donʼt want your spunk in your hair. Of course you donʼt. Itʼs gross. If you donʼt want to get your own love juices on yourself, what makes you think sheʼd want it slathered on her? Also, butt stuff. Most girls arenʼt to big on butt stuff so mind the caution tape. Iʼm not saying these kind of things should never happen in your videos, but Iʼd like to be warned ahead of time, and some less jizz covered, ass filled alternatives would be greatly appreciated.

Most websites do have a ʻfemale friendlyʻ category but honesty, Iʼve seen more interesting and stimulating sex on Showtime. Itʼs dull. Itʼs what men think women want sex to be like. Men think women want their sex lives to be an episode of The Red Shoe Diaries. As sexy as that show was, there was never any real payoff. Is there no way for two people to have hot animalistic sex without it becoming degrading for either party? Can we not find a happy medium between Hollywood love scenes and hardcore pornography?

If a balance could be struck, I for one would probably waste so many hours a week watching porn. Seeing as how women have the gift of being able to enjoy multiple orgasms in one go and often possess greater stamina in the bedroom than their male counterparts, if you could find a way to make and market videos to women, they alone could soon be downloading more than your current fan base already does. Iʼm telling you thereʼs money to be made here.

Sincerely,

Elle

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The Art of the Internet Flash-Fad: Analysis through Twerking

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been talking about Internet culture this entire time, and have yet to properly go over flash fads. This is most likely because Internet flash fads so rarely overlap with sexuality, most having to do with silly things like laying down in places where you’re not supposed to lay down or making fun of Tim Tebow.

Then I remembered that twerking, the butt-shaking dance trend that is now on its way out, is both extremely sexual and an excellent example of a flash fad. As such, I feel it only appropriate to use twerking as a framework for examining the lifecycle of the typical Internet fad.

Phase 1- Origin

Internet fads usually originate from something that was only moderately popular for most of its lifetime. Twerking is a prime example of this. The term originated in the southern hip-hop scene in the mid-90s and for the next ten years or so, remained largely a regional phenomenon. It only rose to national popularity around late 2012 and early 2013 thanks largely to the efforts of the Twerk Team.

Phase 2 – Internet Success

The Twerk Team is exactly what it sounds like. It’s two women who make videos of themselves twerking and post it on YouTube. The Twerk Team started their YouTube channel in 2009 and gained a sizable following over the next few years. The appeal of these videos is easy to see. I speak from experience when I say that the YouTube community’s approach to sexuality tends to be to blindly flock in the direction of boobs. Every year, videos with no interesting content and a picture of boobs in the thumbnail get millions of views from users trolling YouTube for a quick rise. Just swap out boobs for butts and deceptive thumbnails for thumbnails that accurately reflect the content of the video (in this case, butts) and you’ve got Twerk Team. It’s a recipe for Internet fame! But the Twerk Team alone could not turn twerking into a true flash fad. This required…

Phase 3 – Mainstream Attention

Things from the Internet usually gain fad status only after they get mainstream media attention. With twerking, this came in the form of everyone’s favorite ex-Disney Channel Star and Teddy Bear enthusiast Miley Cyrus. Cyrus first mentioned twerking in the lead-up to the release of the music video for “We Can’t Stop”, a song that drew massive attention almost immediately. Cyrus asked her fans to submit homemade twerking videos for inclusion in the music video for “We Can’t Stop.” This contest, announced in June 2013, correlated with a large spike in Google searches for twerking, as shown in this graph.

Source: Google Trends

Source: Google Trends

From there, the search numbers only went up. That was, of course, until august, when Miley performed at the MTV VMA’s and propelled twerking from “popular Internet craze” to “inescapable cultural phenomenon.”

Phase 4 – Moral Outrage

Once an internet fad reaches a certain level of popularity, the news media will find a way to paint it as “harmful” in some way shape or form. In the case of twerking, that meant criticizing Cyrus on all fronts. Most notably from a sexuality standpoint, Cyrus was attacked for giving a racist performance. As explained in this article, Cyrus’ performance used racist ideas about black female sexuality for shock value, exploiting the “jezebel” stereotype of black women as uncontrollably sexual. While not a critique of twerking itself, this nonetheless fits the bill for moral outrage.

Phase 5 – Rapid Decline

Once the public has both heard of the trend, and been angered by it, there’s only one direction it can go. Down. Twerking has steadily declined in popularity since August and will most likely continue down that path. This is because once a fad reaches the point of oversaturation (i.e. everyone is sick of hearing about it) there’s nowhere for it to go but a steady slide into irrelevance. The Internet, after all, is a fickle beast, and not even bouncing butts can change that.

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The Darkest Side of Internet Sexuality: Slut Shaming Dead Girls

I’ve been focusing on a lot of stranger topics lately, so I thought with this post I’d bring things back to a classic feminist issue: slut shaming and victim blaming.

Slut shaming and victim blaming are not always linked, but tend to overlap frequently. Slut shaming is the act of insulting, belittling, or otherwise harassing women for expressing their sexuality. Some common examples of slut shaming are insulting women for how they dress, how many people they’ve had sex with, or how often they go to parties. Victim blaming is exactly what it sounds like: blaming the victim of something for what happened to them.

Both slut shaming and victim blaming are part of the larger concept of “rape culture”, described in this TIME article as a “culture in which sexual violence is the norm and victims are blamed for their own assaults.” While I won’t go too much into rape culture, the broader concept that can be drawn from this is that because of rape culture, women who are abused are blamed for their abuse, be it rape, violence, or other kinds of manipulation.

This gives us some understanding for something I encountered a little while ago that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. A couple years ago, a Canadian teen named Amanda Todd committed suicide after she was ruthlessly bullied. The bullying stemmed from a video chat in which Todd flashed her breasts to a man she met over the Internet. That man then tried to use her nude pictures to blackmail her into more explicit video chats and, when she refused, later sent those nude pictures to her friends and classmates. Todd made a Youtube video outlining her ordeal and killed herself shortly after.

While the video gained significant online traction for what it said about cyberbullying, the Amanda Todd incident interested me for other reasons. When I initially found out about Todd’s death, it was from a site I regularly visit that is usually devoted to humor and relies mostly on user-generated content. A page about Todd’s suicide, which I expected to be fairly light on content, was filled with pictures joking about her suicide and comments mocking her for being a “slut” and a “whore”. Others said Todd deserved to die for being foolish enough to expose herself to a random man over the internet.

Quite frankly, I was appalled by this. I understand that Todd made some bad decisions, but that does not make her any less a victim of cyberbullying, any less a way to educate people about the harm cyberbullying can do, and it certainly does not make her bullies or the man who exploited her any less culpable. The fact that so many people on the internet were outraged at Todd for being a “whore” rather than being outraged at her abusers for abusing her was just depressing. It shows how Internet culture is just as influenced by rape culture as culture outside the web, if not more so.

More than anything though, it revels one of the worst aspects of Internet culture: that harassment and cruelty are trivialized to a dangerous extent. After all, it’s a lot easier to call someone a slut or a whore when you’re not saying it to their face.

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Sexuality in Anime: Completely Uncalled For

In my last post, I mentioned how because the mainstream media tends to focus on sex above all else, communities in which sex is only a minor aspect of the fandom tend to get represented as being all about sex. Anime would be an excellent example of this, were it not for the fact that a lot of the community actually is just about sex. Sort of.

Whether you like it or not, anime is a big part of internet culture. 4chan, the previously mentioned frat house of the internet, began as a place for people to discuss anime. Anime has spawned numerous memes, several online fan communities and more fan art than most people would care to see. If you’re going to look at Internet culture, you’ve got to look at anime.

So how does anime stack up in terms of sexuality? Well there are a lot of shows that have almost nothing even remotely sexual in them. There are far more shows that treat sexuality with a level of maturity and finesse characteristic of the average 8th grade boy. Specifically, many anime contain varying levels of what is commonly known as “fanservice”.

Fanservice is the act of throwing some titillating imagery into an anime that serves no purpose other than titillation. There is a long and storied history of fanservice in anime, as well as the manga that anime are often based on. As someone who has watched quite a bit of anime (it was a sad and embarrassing time in my life), I can attest to this. Fanservice is everywhere in anime, from unnecessary up-skirt shots, to hot springs or beach episodes where nothing happens, to oversized breasts that move in ways that defy physics, logic and good taste.

At this point you’re probably thinking that this sort of thing is not in any way exclusive to anime. That’s true. Plenty of American movies and TV shows feature gratuitous male gaze shots of their female leads. However, in Anime, fanservice isn’t just a small feature of otherwise respectable anime, it’s its own genre.

Fanservice is responsible for the existence of the “harem” genre, a kind of anime in which an average guy ends up surrounded by beautiful women and then some sort of plot happens that nobody cares about because look at those boobs! There have been entire franchises built around this concept. Ikki Tousen, one of the most popular harem shows, has run for four seasons on Japanese TV and spawned three video game adaptations. Why does soft-core porn get a video game adaptation? Why does it get three?

What really bothers me about fanservice, though, is that a lot of the anime known for their fan service have actual plots. People put effort into coming up with storylines for shows like Sekirei and Rosario to Vampire and yet none of it matters because those shows exist only to “please” the audience. Calling constant female objectification “what the fans really want” just discourages good writing, encourages immaturity among anime fans and ensures that new fans will be equally immature. And by extension, all that does is make the whole geek culture more immature as a whole and more likely to alienate women.

And really, I think geek culture has plenty of ways to alienate women as it is.

Bibliography

Brenner, Robin. Understanding Manga and Anime. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2007. Print. http://books.google.com/books?id=uY8700WJy_gC&pg=PA88#v=onepage&q&f=false

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The Furry Fandom: Unleashing the Beast

In my last post I briefly mentioned the furry fandom as an explanation for all the porn on the internet derived from animated anthropomorphic animals. Now it’s time to explain the furry fandom, as well as its role in sexuality on the Internet.

Put simply, the furry fandom, or just furries for short, is a subculture that takes interest in anthropomorphic animals. As explained in this highly informative documentary, furries adopt anthropomorphic alter-egos called “fursonas” that they put on when on the Internet and around other furries. The furry fandom is home to lots of artists and writers, so many furries create stories and artwork based on their fursonas to share on sites like Deviantart (furry art can be found in the “anthro” section) and Fur Affinity (a popular forum devoted to all things furry). Some go a step further and make fursuits, full body costumes, similar to mascot suits, modeled off their fursona that they can wear to furry gatherings.

National Geographic did a piece on furries that gave a bit of explanation as to why furries do what they do. The furries interviewed by Nat Geo said that they felt more like themselves when acting as their fursonas, with some saying their fursuits relieve them of social anxiety.

If you’ve spent time on some of the deeper, darker parts of the internet (such as 4chan) this all probably sounds familiar to you. What may also sound familiar to you is that many furries make their furriness part of their sexuality. The Internet is full of illustrated furry porn, as well as furries looking for other furries to get intimate with.

This tends to be what furries get the most mainstream exposure for. When furries were mentioned in Vanity Fair, Savage Love, and on the Tyra show, the focus was squarely on the sexual aspect of the furry fandom. In fact, more often than not, the most mentioned aspect of the fandom was that some furries have sex in costume.

For furries, this is a serious problem. For one, from what I could learn from browsing furry forums, having sex in a fursuit is both uncommon and highly impractical. So representing furries as people who have sex in animal suits is just plain inaccurate. Similarly, a survey of the fandom revealed that only about a third of furries said that “sexual attraction to the content in the fandom is an important part of their furry participation,” going on to state that the sexual aspects of the furry fandom are a highly polarizing issue within the community.

This sends a very clear message: furries are not all about sex. The fact that they tend to be portrayed that way is a good example of two important concepts. 1) The mainstream media knows that it can draw attention by covering sexual deviance and will focus on that over all else, and 2) Relatively small portions of a community can set the public opinion of the entire community just be being more active. These are all too common trends when it comes to Internet fandoms, and I will be looking into them even more in my next post.

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