I saw your TEDx talk in Vienna and was copiously taking notes. The content was an eye-opener for me. I had never thought that both of our basic information sources about sex [school-sanctioned sex education and online pornography] are running their very own twisted agenda.
I started working in the porn industry six weeks ago — hey, the money is fantastic! — and my consumption of porn has gone way up as a side effect. I’m an animator on 3D animated porn shorts, so any porn clip is not only watched, but dissected frame by frame for all the details in body mechanics. (Yeah, it’s a tough life.)
What I wanted to ask you ever since that talk is: What resources can you suggest for filling that gap that both sex ed and porn leave?
I guess before your talk I would have let Google answer that question, but after your talk I’m somewhat weary of online sex education. Any books, videos, or online resources you recommend?
— Pornographer Across the Pond
Thanks for such a great question and for your kind words. As someone actually working on porn sets, I’m so glad that you in particular attended the talk and are thinking about these things.
For readers who haven’t viewed my TEDxTalk yet, here’s the CliffsNotes version: Sex education is failing us hard. So, very naturally people — especially teens — are turning to Google and therefore often mainstream online porn to learn about what’s really going on with this whole sex thing beyond STDs and pregnancy risk.
But then mainstream porn paints a picture of sex that is limited to heterosexuality, penis-in-vagina penetration, and flawless and predictable mutual orgasm without any conversation about how this happens. If you’re a loyal reader, you already know that conversations about sex are crucial for practicing consent and having great sex.
Online porn, our new sex educator, teaches us what roles we should fit into during sex, what kinds of sex are “normal” and “abnormal,” and that sex needs to be wordless in order to be hot, sexy, and pleasurable.
So, PAP, what can you do to manage this deficit? The first is to work for and support pornography companies with ethical missions.
Porn directors like Shine Louise Houston of CrashPadSeries.com and Tristan Taormino of Vivid-Ed commit to consent-focused porn-making practices such as collaborating with their performers on their scenes and co-performer choices, and creating sex scenes that include education, clear communication, and real interactions between people who break the mainstream porno mold of white, cis-gendered, hetero, skinny, and bulging with just the right slope.
In the porn you work on, is there a way to insert performer diversity, highlight consent, depict dialogue that shows the negotiation of sex, or otherwise prioritize genuine pleasure over the perfect, packaged orgasm?
Can you put your cool 3D animation skills to work and create educational videos for young people that are pleasure-positive, consent-focused, sex-educational, AND age-appropriate? (Psst, I’d back that Kickstarter!)
Now, what can you do to close the gap in your own sex education? Check out educational porn by Tristan Taormino. Hit the books — especially those written by and for women and LGBTQ folks like Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon and Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski.
And keep asking questions, like the ones you just asked me, because using our words to promote a dialogue about sexual pleasure and consent is precisely what is missing in most porn and sex ed classes.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a pleasure-positive sex writer and educator living in the Pioneer Valley. She has a website bursting with sexual advice, workshops, and resources at yanatallonhicks.com.