what happened when i paid for feminist porn

I once dated a guy, who despite having dozens of idiosyncrasies and being somewhere around 5 foot six inches, was still pretty great and I found to be very handsome. But his short stature precludes him from being in the “traditionally hot” category, a group that you don’t need to be in your 30’s to get laid, but is definitely a prerequisite for having sex in high school.

So, when I asked him, several weeks into dating, when did he have sex for the first time, I wasn’t surprised when he said 20 years old. I was surprised at how embarrassed he was about this though. Well, he wasn’t crippled with embarrassment, but the shame of not having sex until halfway through college still remained in this man who was 36 years old by this time.

I think because I told him I had sex for the first time when I was 16, he felt compelled to tell me that he knew he was “a late bloomer”. But after having asked this question to hundreds of different people, 20 is an extremely normal age to have sex for the first time. I didn’t think it was weird at all. Some people I know had sex in high school for the first time, others did it in college, and a smaller but still prevalent group, did it after college.

I don’t think there’s anything weird about when someone chooses to have sex for the first time, or second, or 100th. And I assume that most of you reading this right now agree with me. We don’t live in the time of “American Pie” anymore.

A part of our generation’s sexual liberation comes with the freedom from judgment about when we choose to have sex. As someone who had sex at 16 for the first time, has been having casual sex for about 10-12 years, and writes about it for a living, I am a benefactor of this shift in our society’s mindset. But there has been one thing about my sexual development that I have always been somewhat ashamed to share…

I’m not a good mastubaster. Well I’m not extremely experienced in it.

Because until I was 26, I had really only done it a few times. And I don’t recall getting off any of those times. And I’ve never had a problem getting off while having sex with a man. I’m actually one of the few women I know who gets off 99% of the time I have sex. Not a brag. I contribute this to my anatomy.

I just never found masturbating appealing. I didn’t think it was gross or wrong. I just wasn’t interested in it. I always thought it was kind of pointless. It was missing what I love about sex -the intimacy, the connection, the partner.

While dating the handsome short guy, I mentioned to him that I didn’t masturbate much. He was pretty surprised, knowing how open I was about my sexuality with him, that I wasn’t much of a masturbater. I wasn’t scared to ask for what I wanted in bed. Or tell him what I didn’t want. Or send a text in the middle of the day telling him I wanted him to suck on my pussy that night. I didn’t think his confusion was misplaced. My relationship to getting myself off was kind of confusing.

I explained it to him the most honest and raw way I could - masturbation was a release. I did it to release. Sex was something about connection. Feeling connected, adored, or if I was really lucky - loved. One was about letting go and the other was about gaining something.

I was only able to come to that realization when I learned to masturbate at 25 years old. It was after hooking up with a guy that I learned to get myself off; he taught me something about my body in a way that I could replicate solo. And I did replicate it the next day. Three times actually. When I figured it out, I actually contemplated staying home from work that day so I could keep doing it. I was basically a 12-year-old boy who had learned to do the same thing.

But I didn’t skip work, and in a day or two I stopped thinking about it much. For the next 5 years, masturbation wasn’t something I craved or looked forward to; it was something I sporadically remembered to do.

It’s not that I don’t want to or that I’m never horny, but it’s been a journey learning how to get myself excited and aroused. I enjoy that sexting but finding a worthy partner was almost as difficult as finding a boyfriend.

A couple of years ago, I discovered porn. Well, I had seen porn before. I have vivid memories of downloading it from Limewire when I was 15, just to watch it out of curiosity. I learned that whenever I felt that feeling and wanted to do it, I would just punch in pornhub.com and start scrolling. Just scrolling would help. It became increasingly difficult to find something that I actually wanted to watch. We don’t have to get into how much incest porn there is out there, that’s a whole other post. I just also couldn’t get excited watching actors. The lack of chemistry between the couple made me feel uneasy. I started to watch amateur couples, which helped a lot. I also felt better watching amateurs knowing they weren’t coerced into it. I felt ethical.

One day I was listening to Nicole Byer on a podcast explain feminist porn and I was intrigued. She described it as much higher quality. But I knew it would be something I would have to pay for, and I really resented the idea of paying for porn. I felt like it should be free. I felt like it was owed to me.

Then a few weeks later, tired of choosing between stepmom and stepsons or a couple that doesn’t show their faces, I decided it was time.

I googled “feminist porn”. Found a list on Bustle.  I clicked on each. Most of the websites looked like they were built by Russian Hacker or were built in 1997. I ended up going with XConfessions, the production company of the woman who was interviewed for the article for her top suggestions, Erika Lust. I found the site to be professional, modern, and intriguing.

I reluctantly but hornily, paid $35 for one month of feminist content, promising myself that I’d cancel soon. At the same time, I was 3 months past due my student loans and felt like my wine habit and smoking was about all of the luxuries I could afford. JK, I can’t afford those either. But girlfriend needs to relax ok?

I watched a video or two. And the emotional connection was totally different than when I watch ‘free’ stuff. Not between the actors but between me and the content I was digesting.

Here’s what I noticed:

Much higher production quality: the videos were so well made; to compare them to the iphone recordings on mainstream sites is insulting. The videos were artistic; simple but interesting storylines, complimented with gorgeous visuals.

Inclusive: did you know that porn can feature women of larger sizes and people of color without exploiting it or making it the main point of the video? I always thought it was a possibility, but feminist porn is actually doing it. It’s great. And most feminist porn sites, including Xconfessions, offer content with heterosexual couples, as well as same-sex couples, and a variety of gender identities.

Better actors: Like very, very good. There’s a lot of chemistry between the actors, which makes it easy to watch.

 

Here’s how I felt:

I felt much better watching knowing that it was ethically made. My mind didn’t wander halfway through to think “I wonder if she moved to LA to become an actress and was tricked or manipulated into this video and now she cries in the shower every night.” I can stay so much more present knowing that these people were not coerced or manipulated and are likely being well-paid for their work.

I felt proud and excited not reluctant. Not having ethical concerns made me feel less gross, giving me room to feel excited and eager instead.

I felt overwhelmed. Not having to sort through so thousands of incest or exploitation videos, I had so many more options. And in the last year or so, I’ve developed a bad habit of having trouble making decisions. It’s something I’m working on but it felt hard to execute here.

It’s 100% worth the cost but I felt like it’s an expensive for my habit, or lack thereof. Even though I’ve learned how to get myself off and do it somewhat regularly, I still don’t do it more than once or twice a month. NOTE: I’m not saying this to make myself seem less dirty or sexual or gross. I am not trying to say I am more pure or better than anyone else. I’m only pointing this out to explain that my journey is slow. And to kind of spread light that there’s not two types of women - charlottes and Samantha’s. We’re all deeply complicated and enigmatic and our hormones are different from one another and different every month.

While I think the people, who make these videos deserve all the money in the world, I have a hard time paying $35 for something I will use twice a month. Unsurprisingly, I did cancel before my next billing date.

I would love to sign back up again when I have some more money. In the meantime, I thought this was a lovely exercise in deepening my relationship with my own sexuality. And sharing these experiences has been a reminder to me that I want to go more vulnerable in my writing, especially when it comes to sex and relationships. Stay tuned for more stuff like this.

 

Love, BodyStephanie DeLacyComment