Monday, November 19, 2007

Sex, The Internet’s Own Wasteland

by Melissa Gira, Editor,, San Francisco

The nymphs are departed.
And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors;
Departed, have left no addresses. - T. S. Eliot

I don’t mean to lay the blame at your feet, internet, but I am. How abysmal, how easy. In the morning there are sex bloggers on both America’s coasts (and in the middle, too, but there are fewer, or at least, fewer who say so) searching you for signs of intelligence, and just coming up pale and empty. For fuck’s sake, Technorati’s WTF? Sex has already been taken over with SEO rubbish, the fate of any social search tool that sex is allowed to traffic in (Yahoo killed theirs, and what of you, Mahalo?). Want to cry into your tea with less of a community of users driving your tears? Just customize your Google homepage to sex story feeds (here, I’m not territorial, are a few of mine: “sex study,” “sex research,” “sex science”) and read, weep, repeat. SEX NEWS IS BAD NEWS. Sex news tracked on the Web even more so. Sex news tracked by an untrained public? Just hand me my Hitachi and the handcrank generator, or something with enough batteries to get me off until the future arrives for real, please.So what, then, would break through the internet wasteland of sex, where scandal passes for conversation and teaching people how to have an orgasm (so long as we don’t track your IP or tell your blogroll) and not get HIV is still seen as the apex of sex education? These are all still vital acts, yes, but they are not the whole picture of sex, not hardly. In fact, the more we focus on the endgame — coming, not dying — we lose the big picture, of why this information might be hard to come by in the first place.

What sex media would make a dent in this? Can sex media make a dent? Sex blogging at first seemed the answer: of course,
people have been blogging sex since before blogging was blogging, and when blogging broke into genres — prematurely, I say, but of course, it brought advertisers with it — sex blogging itself went a bit stale. Is it good for the state of sex to just fill the web with more and more and more stories of all the ways we could, do, would fuck? Is it good for the state of sex to just say more — or ought we consider how to speak more smartly of sex?
Blogging is just a platform, blogging could be what we like, and FTW, Sexerati is not going to get all
Andrew Keen on sex & the web, but what if it did? What if we dosed the sex web with a bit more erati – the gleeful elitism of sex that we supposedly dare not go there with? Sex is to be celebrated, sure, and people everywhere need better sex education, sex skill-building, sex comfort even.

But what else? Sex culture. Sex lit. Sex analysis. Sex theory. Sex happenings. Sex community.

Sex smarts, in other words, that fill the needs of not just the individual, but the sexual body politic. Sex that serves a civic duty, yes!

Sex that can be spoken from the rooftops and straight on through them, not just confined within a textfield.

There’s no argument that the internet has given rise to new sexual speech.
Foucault, Sedgwick, Rubin, all would rejoice a little. Now, though, surrounded by new online sex acts each day, is it not time to apply a bit of a critical eye to how sexuality is produced by the internet? How we play a part in the production of sex in not just our reading, linking, and tagging, but in what we don’t even think to look for?

the piece is offered to you under a Creative Commons License

Melissa Gira is a speaker at our event about
the future of Sexuality
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Registration: 18:30-19:00, Conference: 19:00-21:15
Ticket Corner

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sexuality in the 21st Century?

A compilation of quotes and ...

Internet Porn - The Lucrative Business of Online Sex
Video by Max Joseph, Jon Miller, Cameron Cohen, Music by Don C, GOOD Magazine

  • China is the world’s largest exporter of sex toys and novelties, with an estimated 1,000 factories involved in the manufacture of “adult healthcare products”. The Chinese government estimates that about one-third of all adult products and 80 percent of sex toys and condoms sold worldwide are made in China, with annual revenues from sales of Chinese adult products reaching RenMinBi 50 billion ($6.7 billion) in 2006.
  • A study found that both men and women reported experiencing an orgasm in about four percent of their sexual dreams. Orgasms were described as being experienced by another dream character in four percent of the women's sexual dreams, but in none of the male dream reports. Current or past partners were identified in 20 percent of women's sexual dreams, compared to 14 percent for men, and public figures were twice as likely to be the object of women's sexual dream content. Multiple sex partners were reported twice as frequently in men's sexual dreams. - ScienceDaily
  • Many older Americans routinely engage in vaginal intercourse, oral sex and masturbation, reported a landmark study into a long-taboo subject. Sexual activity reported among the 3,005 men and women who participated in the survey did decrease with age, particularly among the oldest participants -- from 73 percent among those 57 to 64 years of age to 53 percent among those 65 to 74 years of age to 26 percent among those 75 to 85 years of age. ... "Hopefully, this opens the door for conversation that might counter stereotypes," Lindau told reporters in a conference call. "If we regard older people as asexual, particularly as physicians, we really miss an opportunity to do important counseling and interventions for people who may benefit from them." - CNN

  • Virtual porn can be just as, if not more, satisfying than the real thing, asserts Sadako Shikami, a "Second Life" escort, putting emphasis on Second Life's sex-related users, scripts and objects as being the pinnacle of today's virtual, interactive sex. Regarding the current state of virtual porn online, "even though a real person created it, it's just a picture, a painting, a special effect. The main difference between hentai anime or Poser porn and Second Life porn is that there's a real person behind the avatar, or the furry, or the cartoon," maintains Sadako. "You can live out your wildest fantasies with a real person who shares them."
  • Development agencies have conventionally viewed sexuality as a health issue. Sex has been regarded as a source of danger, harm and disease. The words `love', `desire' and `pleasure' are absent from the development lexicon. - Institute of Development Studies, Sussex
  • Germany’s legal sex industry is estimated to make $18 billion annually [2006].
    Meaningful sex has to be value based. Values are personal. Each situation that has sexual energy in it, involves the whole human being and their entire value system. My values may be different from yours, and I have no right to be the moral judge of anyone's values. It is important, however, to have core values, and respect them. Without values, we become spiritually bankrupt. Sexual experience will never cause problems and will always be joyful, if lovers share the same values. - Deepak Chopra
  • The growth of electronically mediated sex will presumably reduce the number of flesh-to-flesh sex acts. There are millions of people in the industrialized world who spend significant amounts of time and money on Internet porn, sex chat, voyeur cams and interacting with sexual partners through Web cams and audio interfaces.

    These media will soon be joined by "haptic" and "teledildonic" equipment that will communicate a partner's caresses and allow you to feel them. Extrapolating to the latter 21st century, when full nanotechnology-based virtual reality is in use, we will be able to have as high-bandwidth a sexual relationship electronically as in the flesh. That will probably mean a lot more casual e-sex and more commercial e-sex. But for those special someones it will also mean more profound sex.

    Direct control of our brains will also mean that masturbation will be a lot more direct than the current manual methods. We will be able to directly stimulate our sexual pleasure centers pretty much invisibly, and as often as we like. Luckily we won't have to drive our cars manually anymore, or things could be very dangerous on the road. - James Hughes, Executive Director, IEET, bioethicist and sociologist
  • Catching sight of a pretty woman really is enough to throw a man's decision-making skills into disarray, a study suggests. The men's performance in the tests showed those who had been exposed to the "sexual cues" were more likely to accept an unfair offer than those who were not. Dr Siegfried DeWitte, one of the researchers who worked on the study, said: "We like to think we are all rational beings, but our research suggests ... that people with high testosterone levels are very vulnerable to sexual cues. The researchers are conducting similar tests with women. But so far, they have failed to find a visual stimulus which will affect their behaviour. - The Royal Society

    2006 Worldwide Pornography Revenues

Join us at
the future of Sexuality
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Registration: 18:30-19:00, Conference: 19:00-21:15
Ticket Corner
Where: Waag Society, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam [Center of the Nieuwmarkt]
The conference language is English.