Thursday, July 5, 2012

Crowd Sourcing & Porn: it's not just for cis people anymore


I have a sorted relationship with porn, be it primarily written or visual. As a queer trans woman often the porn I enjoy is full of people with bodies unlike mine. That's because the porn with bodies “like mine” is too often full of really broken language such as “chicks with dicks,” “shemale,” or use “tranny” like it's going out of style. This is also almost always directed at straight cis men (though the same is the case with a great deal of lesbian porn out there).

There is an emerging queer porn movement and what made me start thinking about this again is a kickstarter for a new project by Tobi Hill-Meyer. I'll talk a bit more about why that project has become a catalyst for my thoughts and hope of challenging cissexist porn culture later.

Overall throughout my life and journey of sexual and gender self-discovery I have found that in many ways my sexuality has been robbed from me before I was even aware by mainstream porn culture. This has of course negatively impacted my mental health. But, it's not just the porn itself which I did watch and read but the discussion of sex and sexuality as it relates to trans people. Or more often how it DOES NOT relate to trans* people (unless they are props in someone else's fantasy).

Even if I choose to not watch or read most porn, the dialogue around trans bodies is ever so present in our society that I can't avoid it affecting me. I'm not saying I would not be dysphoric otherwise, but I can't say that the sex-negative culture I live in has helped. We do live in a very sex-negative culture, but that does not mean sex is not everywhere. Many people view America as a rather prudent society, but that in itself lead to a proliferation of sexuality. Chastity is inevitably the catalyst for thinking about sex. I could make an academic argument as to why, but I think the best explanation came from a comedian.

When you hear the Jonas Brothers talk about their promise rings, just try and not think about them having sex or about their sexuality. If I say don't think about the Jonas Brothers fucking, what is your first thought?

With trans* people, the moment we are robbed of any say in our sexuality we are forced to think about it. This is done even by other trans* people. We grow up in a society that makes us ashamed of our bodies and in turn often form a very tense relationship with our sexuality.

What got me thinking a lot about my relationship to porn and erotica is a kickstarter campaign started up by Tobi Hill-Meyer for a new project called Doing it Again: In Depth. The project is an erotic documentary which will go through the actual lives of trans women with their partners and splice explicit porn with interviews where trans* people can speak about their own relationship with sex. That's what I really love about this project, it does not shy away from how trans* people negotiating our daily lives is often part of negotiating our sexual lives.

I really suggest everyone reading check out the kickstarter, watch the preview, and consider donating. I would really like to see as much self-representation of our bodies as possible and if we don't do it I don't think the cissexist culture we live in will step up.

Crowd sourcing can show the power of our community to make our own decisions about what we want to see in the world around us. Crowd sourcing by no means gets us beyond cultural engagement and is not a perfect solution by any means. We queers are systemically poor and ideally should not have to be using our limited resources to challenge the myopic visibility of those with the power making us poor.

Though instead of viewing this as a new type of voting with our wallets, I choose to see it more as expressing our numbers. If every queer gave a dollar here this project would be filled many many times over. And to those who say “it's just porn we should spend our resources on more respectable things,” what could be better than showing a young queer kid it is possible to love their body and have it be loved in return?

And in the vein of using the words of comedians: “For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution. And our revolution is long-overdue.” -- Margaret Cho

I might still have an awkward relationship with porn. I will probably once again be reading a really good erotic fan fic and have to stop midway though because I'm feeling a panic attack coming on. However, I'm sick of internalizing all of this and want something to show the value in reclaiming of sexual voices.

My sexual self-respect is not a trivial matter.

-b

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