What's a productive way to think about problematic erotica?
January 21, 2022 10:13 AM   Subscribe

I've been getting into erotic media, which on the whole has been great! But I'm not sure what a good (feminist, progressive, etc) take is on the more problematic ends of the spectrum. Seeking opinions on healthy ways to look at this!

I myself am not particularly offended by the existence of problematic erotic media...but I wonder if I should be? Or how to think about the consumption of it? Especially in a broader sense of how to view media. I know there are a lot of "problematic" fantasies that people have, and erotic media is a safe place to explore that. Which is awesome! Especially because it is victimless.

But I guess I just don't know what to think about the more extreme ends. A good example is manga and whatnot...there is a ton of stuff that depicts, for example, sex with children...or much more extreme scenarios. Tons of very violent rape scenes. And on and on. Pretty much anything you can imagine, there are people writing it, drawing it, consuming it.

Should I care? Obviously I can simply not consume that stuff, but should it even exist at all? How does this intersect with having healthy views on art, society, human relationships? I guess I tend to be a "everything is political" type of person, which is why I care. It feels like, as someone who likes erotic media, having a useful (for lack of a better word) view on this sort of thing will sort of bridge the gap with my broader political beliefs.

And then I suppose the related next step is, one's views on the existence of such things is one thing, but what about one's own relationship to it? A perhaps extreme analogy is that you can think heroin should be legal, but that doing heroin is probably not a great thing to do. What is the increasing level of "badness" of erotica with increasingly "disturbing" or extreme themes? I'm fortunate that honestly, my own desires are pretty vanilla. But I think that this is a pretty important corollary to the above, to not just think of this as someone else's problem, but as something that we also could potentially consume...or not! Where is the line? I welcome opinions on how people deal with the above, but I do also wonder if there is research on how consuming this sort of content affects people? In this case, I'm primarily concerned with adults with, presumably, adult views on and experiences with sex.
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My feeling is if someone needs to see certain things that could hurt a person it's great if a drawing can serve the same purpose, or if it's consenting adult actors who aren't being exploited. Judging what people need isn't going to help anything because even after you judge someone's need as good or bad or illegitimate or unlikely, it still exists & they have no choice but to find something to alleviate it. The only thing that matters is actual people being actually hurt.
posted by bleep at 10:20 AM on January 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

Putting aside your misuse of the word manga (you’re probably referring to hentai - manga is just Japanese comics on any topic), I don’t think it is a great idea to police people’s written or drawn artistic expression, especially where that can be an outlet for desires that are impractical or unethical to experience.

In terms of your personal consumption, usually you can tell what is working for you and what is upsetting. It can be confusing when things overlap in that space, and it’s ok to set boundaries for yourself about the types of media you want to consume even where they may be titillating. Or not!
posted by jeoc at 10:24 AM on January 21, 2022

Here's the thing. You decide how YOU feel about it (it being each particular thing you realize exists, because you'll never encounter them all), and whether or not it's something you're personally ok with consuming or creating. THEN, you get to decide whether or not you're okay with interacting personally with others who are ok with consuming or creating that particular media, and behave/react accordingly in your personal life.

After that, so long as it 1) doesn't have a live victim, and 2) isn't criminal in the place it's being created/consumed, then there honestly isn't much your having an opinion - even having a strong opinion - is going to accomplish. Yes, you could attempt to work toward making a particular thing illegal in your jurisdiction, but that's about the best you're going to do... and it's going to take an awful lot of work, and an awful lot more people with the same of personal investment, to (maybe) get anywhere.

It's up to you at that point to decide whether or not, if you really feel that strongly about a particular thing, if it's worth your time and effort, potentially (probably?) at the expense of other things in your life. And you have to make that decision knowing that it's still not going to make that *thing* that bothers you so much go away. It'll still be there, just a little more difficult to find... and if it's the sort of thing someone is turning to instead of having real-life victims, well... it might mean that a few more real-life victims occur. No way to tell.

It's up to you, of course, and I realize that some people out there just seem to have a need to chase after a cause they can get all dramatic and offended about, and throw their energy toward... but personally, I have more important things in my life. I've had a real-life experience that even a DA AND the criminal lawyer both agreed they wished was better dealt with in law and precedence, and was encourage to speak to state lawmakers about it once things were finalized, in the hopes that our situation wouldn't happen to someone else... but then Covid happened. And I've had other priorities, though I still think about it. And that's a real-life, personal experience that had a tremendous impact on our family personally.

You only have so much time and energy in this life. Make sure where you spend it is meaningful, in whatever way you define that.
posted by stormyteal at 10:39 AM on January 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

"Judge people by how they treat others" is my rule. Many people would disagree, but I'm happy to let people think about and see whatever awful stuff they want, as long as their consumption of it doesn't in any way benefit those who hurt real, living people. To pick a less fraught analogue, if I judged my friends based on the ethics demonstrated in the superhero action films or detective shows they love, I wouldn't have any friends. Including myself.

Last time I make a good-faith effort to look into research into how consuming ugly erotic material hurts people. . . I gave up in frustration. Very little of it should be called research. Even the researchers I agree with are mostly embarrassing. If you look into it, always read the original paper, not the newspaper article, and do so with a skeptical eye.
posted by eotvos at 10:40 AM on January 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

Unless you are willing to be EXTREMELY on the internet in ways that will alienate 99 percent of your flesh and blood acquaintances, I suggest you not care.
posted by kingdead at 10:48 AM on January 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

As a philosophical question, this is interesting. Does the existence of such media fulfill some people's needs in a way that might prevent harm to actual victims, or does it create an environment that causes some people to have needs in the first place? Intriguing.

In a practical sense, though, your opinion will have no effect on the production of such media unless you yourself are making it (or you are very politically powerful). So all it will affect is your own mind. Is it worth getting upset about, if that's the only outcome? That's up to you.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:57 AM on January 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

I came in pretty much to say precisely what stormyteal said above.

Each person's sexuality, and the expression of that sexuality, is a really, really, really unique and individual thing. The stuff that blows your own hair back is different from mine, and vice versa; and likely it is different from 99% of the people on the planet. And that is okay - as an old roommate of mine would say, "wiring is weird." Some people are fairly mainstream in their tastes; some get turned on at the thought of being submerged in baked beans. Some people don't like sex at all, some like it regardless how it comes. It's all good, and there's no such thing as "normal".

However, that refers to the content of what is inside your head. There is a difference between "what is inside your head" and "what you actually physically do out in the world at large". And when it comes to sex and what is happening out in the world at large, my own instinct is "as long as everyone in the room participating in things is doing so willingly, have at it".

There is also a difference between "what is out in the world at large" and "what is a fictional thing in a book/photo/movie"; and for the most part, my instinct is also that "as long as everyone involved is a willing participant, then it's all good". And for the most part, with erotica, everyone involved is a willing participant - the writer is willingly writing about imaginary characters, you are a reader who is willingly reading them. So....there you go.

I grant that sometimes there is erotica in which even though the writer is a wiling participant, the characters they write about are not. However, all of the real people taking part in things are doing so willingly, and that is what makes it okay. Fantasy, especially sexual fantasy, can feel real enough to make some people uneasy - and that is why some people try to control it; however, as a human sexuality professor I had would argue, it's also precisely the same reason why other people get turned on by it. The erotica you read isn't about real people, but it feels real, and that's why you dig it. If it was really bad quality writing you wouldn't be interested no matter what it was about.

Now, you may also find people who argue that creating erotica about....well, I'm just going to call it "transgression", may encourage some people to make the leap from reading about fantasy transgression to committing actual transgression. I don't know enough about human psychology or sociology to point to any study arguing either way, but my hunch is that there is probably just as much evidence for as there is against for this argument; and, also, there is still a difference between thinking about a thing and actually doing a thing. The legal system only regards actual acts or attempted acts as a crime - sitting in your room and fantasizing about those acts, but then never doing them in real life, is not a crime. You could be fantasizing about tying me to my office copier and ravishing me - but unless you actually do that, I would not personally be harmed at all, nor would I likely even know about it.

The one and only argument against "troubling" erotica I can agree with is if the woman in the porn film/photo/etc. is unwilling, or somehow unable to adequately give consent (i.e., a film where a guy films himself actually raping a woman, photos of children doing sex acts, a woman who is being coerced into acting in a porn film through threats of violence or legal action, etc.). That kind of thing does happen, and I would consider those cases to be objectionable. But not because of the content of the erotica itself - rather, it is objectionable because you're forcing someone to get involved with it who didn't want to be, or at least had no way of being able to understand whether they did want to be.

I mean, consider - you could be forcing someone to participate in a short pornographic film in which the characters are a husband and wife who have sex in the missionary position. The sex is vanilla, but if the woman playing the wife is an undocumented immigrant who's being told "do this or I'll call ICE", then the fact that the sex is vanilla hardly matters, right?

So if you're looking for a yardstick with which to measure your response, that's a good a one as any - that if all of the real people participating in things are 100% able and willing, then it's good. But if anyone is unwilling, then that's the problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:20 AM on January 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

What's lawful and what's ethical are two different things and only sometimes overlap. And defining our ethics is a lot of what makes us us, and definitely shapes our politics. I don't think the OP is trying to figure out if they should lobby congress against extreme erotica, I think they are just trying to figure out how they feel about it ethically or if they should even explore their feelings about it in the first place (ie, does this actually cause harm [to the viewer or people the viewers may come in contact with] or is it just kinda icky).

OP, this is something I've thought about when it comes to any kind of sexually expressive art, the artists behind it, and the consumers of it. I still haven't quite figured out how to square some of it in my own mind, but that's okay. I'm okay not having all the answers right now.
posted by greta simone at 11:29 AM on January 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

As a young person, I was terrified of erotica. As a young adult, I allowed myself to enjoy it a bit. Some stuff I didn't like, and it was good to identify that. Other stuff, like gay porn, was more interesting once I calmed down and let myself appreciate it. I guess I'm saying that, until you look, you really don't know, right?
posted by SPrintF at 12:00 PM on January 21, 2022

You might consider reading Who's Been Sleeping In Your Head? The Secret World of Sexual Fantasies by psychoanalyst Brett Kahr (warning: sexually explicit fantasies are recounted). While he's an unabashed Freudian, which I kind of roll my eyes at, what I got out of it is: quite often, sexual fantasy is a way of redefining trauma that happened to a person in the past, because they are now in control of the situation. I expect that's what's happening with a lot of "problematic" material--someone reading it is now in control: they can close the tab, shut the book, turn off the channel.
posted by telophase at 12:43 PM on January 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

A good place to start if you like comics is Iron Circus, who do several series like Smut Peddler that are very hot but also diverse and full of consenting but horny characters. (They also do comics on other subjects). Oh Joy Sex Toy is a site that features erotica but also columns on sex toys, kink, etc.
posted by emjaybee at 12:51 PM on January 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

1) There is what I will call a "release valve"argument that's been raised by a whole bunch of people here, where fictional harm and violence make people less likely to do harm in reality by giving them an "outlet."

2) There is also a "fiction is fiction" argument, where fictional harm doesn't have any relationship with how people act in reality.

3) I think those both might sometimes be true, but when I have talked candidly with creators of this sort of work or read their discussions of why they simulate that, some of their interest has been about what I will call "displaced processing."

That is, if you've experienced some kinds of harm - especially big, ongoing stuff, like oppression and familial trauma - you may be intensely interested in harm and the forms it takes, and that interest might be erotic, especially when you focus on harm that is only sort of like your personal experience.

Examples might include people with histories of of familial abuse writing about supernatural rape and violation, or people who have experienced misogyny writing or drawing Omegaverse material. (Link goes to non-graphic Fanlore page about that specific set of tropes/kinks.)

4) When you look particularly at sexual horror and at BDSM, I feel that there's a fourth explanation, which is "physical and emotional sadomasochism."

Some people like to be scared or hurt, or to scare or hurt others, because it's fun and exciting in a risk-aware context. People will honestly tell you they think it's better to be more scared by a darker horror story with worse monsters, or for their mouths to burn more with spicier food, because those are the innate reactions to that stuff that they have.

So it goes, too, with things like being "menaced" by a "cruel" dominant figure (or doing the "menacing"). Sometimes it is genuinely that simple.

On that note, there's a great non-graphic Terry Pratchett passage I'm going to leave you with, from Making Money, as someone who has enjoyed some literal and metaphorical horseradish sandwiches:

“What are these, and why do they jingle?” Adora Belle said, holding up a couple of strange devices.

“How should I know?”

“You’re a man.”

“Well, yes. And? I mean, I don’t go in for this stuff.”

“You know, I think it’s like horseradish,” said Adora Belle thoughtfully.


“Like…well, horseradish is good in a beef sandwich, so you have some. But one day a spoonful just doesn’t cut the mustard—”

“As it were,” said Moist, fascinated.

“—and so you have two, and soon it’s three, and eventually there’s more horseradish than beef, and then one day you realize the beef fell out and you didn’t notice.”

“I don’t think that is the metaphor you’re looking for,” said Moist, “because I have known you to make yourself a horseradish sandwich.”

“All right, but it’s still a good one,” said Adora Belle. She reached down and picked up something from the floor.

“Your keys, I think. What they were doing in there we shall never know, with any luck.”

Moist took them. The ring was heavy with keys of all sizes.

“And what shall we do with all this stuff?” Adora Belle kicked the heap again. It quivered, and somewhere inside something squeaked.

“Put it back in the cupboard?” Moist suggested uncertainly. The pile of passionless frippery had a brooding, alien look, like some sea monster of the abyss that had been dragged unceremoniously from its native darkness into the light of the sun.

“I don’t think I could face it,” said Adora Belle. “Let’s just leave the door open and let it crawl back by itself. Hey!” This was to Mr. Fusspot, who’d trotted smartly out of the room with something in his mouth.

“Tell me that was just an old rubber bone,” she said. “Please?”

“No-oh,” said Moist, shaking his head. “I think that would definitely be the wrong description. I think it was…was…it was not an old rubber bone, is what it was.”

posted by All Might Be Well at 12:58 PM on January 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

I reconcile “problematic” sexual desires by believing both that people should be free to pursue their desires as long as they’re not hurting anyone and that we can work to build a world where problematic stuff isn’t prevalent in and eroticized by society at large.
posted by momus_window at 1:00 PM on January 21, 2022

I think erotica trips people up (as a genre) because its effect is intended to be immediate, visceral, and intimate (ie turn you on), but is there really any difference between problematic erotica and problematic, say, thrillers? Either genre can glamorize violence, sexual objectification, toxic patriarchy, etc. Erotica represents one kind of fantasy, but all our stories are made up of these compelling fantasies. We keep imagining and re-imagining superheroes, chosen ones, noble cops, kind slaveholders, and good kings because they help us make sense of the messed-up world we're living in.

Sometimes when erotica comes up online, it feels like there's this moralistic assumption that the reader is some "normal" person without experience or history--a blank slate that "dangerous" ideas can be written onto. But we're all stewing in the same morass of problematic ideas: the social influences that lead you to be revolted by certain stories might make those stories psychologically crucial for another. Many, many people come to terms with their own sexual histories and experiences through the medium of erotica (as All Might Be Well says above).

And at the end, even though art can have a profound effect on us, remember that that effect isn't simply causal. Thrash metal+video games≠school shootings. Even superwholock+wincest+a/b/o mostly = tumblr drama.
posted by radiogreentea at 1:56 PM on January 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

The idea that real consent is universal or even the norm in porn that advertises itself as consensual is more of a fantasy than the erotic fantasies it depicts. Linda Lovelace's autobiography is useful for banishing that delusion, if you can stand to read it.

And outright sexual assault is endemic in the industry as well; long time pornstar Ron Jeremy, for example, was indicted just last year for sexually assaulting more than twenty women and girls, one of whom was 14 at the time. Similar allegations have been made against James Deen, one by pornstar Soraya, as I recall, but I haven’t heard of any indictments.

No matter how it’s made, firsthand accounts by victims of pedophiles regularly mention that porn was used by the pedophile in the grooming process.

But all attempts to legislate and police porn out of existence seem inevitably to lead to radical curtailments of artistic expression, political speech and political freedom, freedom of inquiry and intellectual freedom in general, and especially to the oppression of women and sexual minorities.

I think that means a free society will always host a wide range of potentially upsetting and genuinely problematic erotic expression, and that we just have to live with it and ameliorate the damage it causes as best we can.

And that as a corollary to this, you as an individual ought to follow your own inclinations, but always be aware of what you’re consuming and how that can harm other people — as well as you yourself.
posted by jamjam at 2:14 PM on January 21, 2022 [7 favorites]

I’m one of those evil no-fun feminists who finds the pornography industry morally repugnant. But erotic media like you are talking about — I’m assuming this is stories, comics and artwork? — I don’t really see a problem with because no actual humans are involved.

Now, there are limits, just as I think there are problems with porn that go beyond the exploitation of the participants. I wouldn’t outlaw any of this, but I can’t say I wouldn’t cast personal judgment on someone who was consuming pedophilic or extremely violent erotica. I wouldn’t want to date them, be friends with them, or have them around children or animals I cared about. But is that the erotica or the desire it reveals that is the problem? I’m not sure.

If you find yourself moving toward more and more extreme material, becoming fixated on erotica at the expense of a real-world sex life, or being obsessed with fantasies that could not ethically be realized in the real world — then it might be some time for some soul searching. If you’re just reading some vanilla sexy stories and are concerned that more disturbing stuff also exists, I’d just relax.
posted by vanitas at 3:39 PM on January 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

I assumed also that by "erotic media" you mean non-live-action porn, as vanitas mentioned. For myself, I don't watch live-action porn because I don't want to watch anybody get raped - nor do I want to create a demand for additional people to be raped, and we all know it's statistically likely that I would see rape, and not know it.

As for hentai, or erotic literature, or whatever, it seems to me that the path of least harm is to make peace with the existence of the whole gamut. Censorship always seems to catch actual art in its nets, and is infeasible anyway. And it may well be that problematic non-live-action porn acts as a release valve for people with problematic/criminal desires, I don't know. That seems more likely to me than the gateway-drug argument, in the absence of convincing evidence on either side.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 4:59 PM on January 21, 2022

Consider all the murder movies and books out there, and yet, few argue that those things shouldn’t exist or that they turn people into murderers.
posted by advicepig at 5:28 PM on January 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

Wishing things didn’t exist does mean you have to think they shouldn’t exist.
posted by kapers at 5:30 PM on January 21, 2022

I just wrote a long equivocal answer in which I quoted Oscar Wilde: "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all." And I still believe that, but I think I've stumbled upon a more complicated answer.

I'm going to put aside the question of erotica, since I agree with radiogreentea that all art benefits from this kind of moral scrutiny. Instead, the art object that came to mind was the book Michelle Remembers. Published in 1980, it helped spark the Satanic panic and literally ruined people's lives. The author, psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder, probably shouldn't have published it (or, uhhh, groomed and married his patient, the eponymous Michelle).

But I don't think everyone who read this trash book was a trash person. The thing is, Michelle Remembers was apparently very entertaining trash. And it came along at a portentous time. Even as Michelle wrestled with her demons, Americans too had demons, specifically a brave new post-feminist world in which women had credit cards and inner lives. So was Michelle Remembers a rallying cry for conspiracy theorists, or a self-soothing mechanism for anxious Americans who couldn't cope, or just an absurd piece of fluff to read on a summer vacation?

As Wilde goes on to say, "It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors." At the end of the day we're all grownups, and we've got to decide on a case-by-case basis if the art we're consuming is bad for us. I think it's good to be a self-aware consumer, and completely reasonable to be wary of people whose tastes in entertainment seem worrisome.

But I don't think art is much like heroin, or if it is, our susceptibility differs person to person, year to year. Abstinence is an option, but personally I think we all deserve the occasional trashy fantasy.
posted by toastedcheese at 5:40 PM on January 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

I consume some erotica more than every once in a while, and my tastes vary somewhat from tame to kink. And I've seen some pretty disturbing stuff, some even with real people performing them to other performers, sometimes depicting noncon fantasies. You can tell they are fantasies, despite various attempts to make them look like "hidden camera" shows.

I think it's said somewhere that "porn is to sex as reality TV is to reality". Both porn and reality TV are nothing like the real thing, but heavily scripted to provide "entertainment" while somewhat resembling whatever they are depicting.

My personal thought on porn is sometimes they may involve so much fantasy, that attempts to emulate it will likely result in assault and abuse charges. And some men may be influenced by such propaganda that can lead them astray. Yet you have porn (and OnlyFans) going for clicks and views much like tiktokers and YouTubers vying for eyeballs, so they are upping the ante, which leads to even MORE distorted views further from the normal vanilla sex.

Yet on the other hand, I do believe that individuals have the right to consume whatever media they want as long as the content is produced responsibly, and enjoy sex whatever the way they want, as long as their partner(s) provided properly consent and nobody got hurt (that didn't want to be, and only temporary pain if any).

At the end, it's back to personal responsibility... the flip side of freedom. We have the freedom up to the point we start to violate someone else's. AND our freedom have to be curtailed somewhat for a civil society to function, and government isn't there to watch us every step of the way, nor do we want to. There need to be some limits on the extremely hardcore stuff, on who can access them, but that's more about education, and I think we can all agree that FSOG the novel (the movie is even worse) is a VERY UNREALISTIC take on BDSM.
posted by kschang at 7:33 PM on January 21, 2022

From a member who would like to remain anonymous:
CW: lots of talk about sexual assault and adjacent topics.

Hi, OP. I struggle with this too, even though I read/write disturbing erotica. Like lots of people who engage with problematic content, I have a history of sexual trauma, which I bring up just to emphasize: when you see unsettling art, you never know where it’s coming from. So many people create this stuff to deal with trauma, or to explore kinks that arose from it.

I’m just hoping to add context, here; I don’t mean to suggest one needs justification to enjoy dark content. Fantasies, I think, are never morally wrong. What plays out in the mind (or gets staged, consensually, in one’s bedroom) is not real life. Neither, really, are stories or comics. We could go down the path of, "but what if some nascent creep sees a depiction of a dark fantasy, and gets inspired or confident enough to actually DO it,” but really, any public expression can inspire awfulness. Some types of content feel more dangerous than others, sure. (And note I’m only talking about written/drawn/imaginary stuff in this post.) But I think unless someone is creating propaganda, or explaining how to do awful things, it’s unfair to call fiction causative.

That said, I’ve never showed my violent/noncon work to anyone else, and part of the reason is, despite what I wrote above, I do get these obsessive fears of like, "What if sharing this somehow DOES make the world a little worse? On balance? Do I have the right to do that?," etc. It’s not always easy to think about.

But I also don’t share because online censorship of (non-video) sexual content has actually gotten quite strict. Due to widespread content taboos, I literally find more pleasure in published erotica from like, the 18th/19th centuries, than from just about any other freely available online source. These books, you see, have roughly zero qualms about nonconsent and violence. Um, not necessarily for good reasons, but…they don’t. Which can feel very sexy and wild and expansive. Modern erotica, by comparison, so often seems manicured and unsurprising. As for what I write: it can’t really be posted anywhere. It isn't even that extreme: no animals, no minors under 16, no torture, no incest, no gore, no monsters, no cannibalism. But rape/sexualized violence is I guess a huge no-no on like, every platform. (Under-18s: also a big no. But like, sometimes the whole point is that a relationship with an adult can feel very sexy, until you realize he is a creep and a statutory rapist, and your erotic illusions shatter, as you try to make sense of having what felt like good sex with a creep. Emotional realism? In MY erotica? Hey, maybe I’m not the only freak who likes it! But I suspect I’ll never know.)

I find this depressing, and distressing. I feel like a bad person for telling stories inspired by my life. I feel like a creep for wanting to exorcise the fears that haunt (and excite) me past midnight. Like, I get it: websites don’t wanna get sued or busted or lose their banking/ads. But reading dark erotica got me out of a bad place, and I hate the quarantining and implicit shaming. It’s especially galling when there’s worse stuff being done to REAL PEOPLE, some of whom are being literally raped on camera, all just a click away on live-action porn sites. But god forbid there be darkness in the sort of material that, hmmm, happens to be read mostly by those who are not cis straight men.

…Is it weird I get so het up about not being able to post rapey, questionable stories? idk, maybe!! And yes, I am full of shame! Shame for my desires, and my writing. I wish I weren’t, because I don’t think I’m harming myself, or anyone else. But the cultural messaging is clear.

TL;DR I feel censorship is a worse crime than imaginary crimes. And I am sad that people get castigated* for liking or producing dark erotica. (*Are roving, doxxing bands of "kill yourself" Antis still a thing? That's when I left twitter.) OP, thanks for not making snap judgments, and I hope an inside perspective was helpful. Best wishes sorting this out :)
posted by taz at 2:55 AM on January 22, 2022 [4 favorites]

I've been meaning to make a semi-anonymous account here for a while, and the wonderful responses to this thread inspired me to do so. I am not going to threadsit, I just wanted to sincerely thank everyone for their responses.

A little context: I mainly had books and drawn images etc in mind, not porn with real people. I'm not anti-porn! But I think the potential issues are a bit different, though there certainly is a lot of overlap. But this question was asked thoroughly with stuff that is written or drawn, not filmed.

I want to say that "greta simone" nailed the impetus behind my question.

The real impetus for me posting here right now, though, was to sincerely thank the person who posted anonymously. Everyone's responses were very helpful, and I hope I get more. But this one was very, very helpful. I deeply appreciate it, stranger. The same is real and I just want to say that I hope you can find the release from that shame that you deserve, because at least to me, there is nothing shameful at all about it (even if I'm *also* working through feelings of shame related to this stuff!)

And, I want to say...stranger, if you want to start an anonymous exchange talking about erotic media and stuff, I think it could be fruitful for both of us. I promise that I am extremely non-judgmental about this stuff. Of course if you don't want to (or simply don't see this!) that is ok, but I figure it's worth a shot, because you seem to "get it." Email: damedeshou@protonmail.com

This goes for anyone who wants to talk about this stuff...want to talk about media you like? Or what I've been reading? I'd be down to talk. It can be very lonely, as there's so much shame around this stuff. I haven't found a very good community for this sort of thing. If any has any recs for communities, that'd be very welcome (that might be a separate question, though!)

And in honor of the aforementioned stranger, I thought I'd share a little more of the context behind this question. On the whole, I think I just took the "opt out, don't think about it" route to this sort of stuff. I watched porn, didn't touch anything else, despite a lot of curiosity (that's for lechers!). Eventually, curiosity gave way and I started consuming stuff other than porn. It's been a ton of fun and I look forward to exploring more and broadening my horizons.

But I realized that...I don't really have "icky" limits that a lot of people I know may have. So I sort of just set hard limits...only vanilla stuff, only the least-problematic, most-justifiable stuff. There's plenty! But I was lying to myself, because I was intrigued by stuff that pushed the envelope more. I said I wasn't, but I was. By things that were problematic. So I let myself branch out...and found a lot of stuff really did it for me. But I was in a bind. I didn't really have a framework for how to think of this. My framework was simply, "I don't consume it, I don't need to think about it." Now I had to think about it...thus this question. Because my tactic for this stuff has always been running away and repression. Running away from my bisexuality. Then running away from an interest in non-porn erotic media. Then running away from erotic media dealing with more "problematic" themes. I'm tired of running away...but that means I have to sort of am wrap my head around this stuff.

I will reiterate that I'm about as nonjudgmental as it gets. Which really is why this exists in the first place. When I browse hentai, for example...there is a lot of stuff that might not turn me on, but I simply don't have that thing in me that a lot of people have where they have a gut level "noo! noo! noo!" type reaction. I have known many people who were into erotica depicting rape etc and there simply was never that kneejerk "wtf factor." But I think that it is exactly that ick factor that guides a lot of people's views on this stuff, so for me...it really hasn't been clear what is and isn't ok. Because this is all victimless. People write or draw things. Other people consume that. Then we live our lives, ideally seeking rich interpersonal relationships and what beauty we can with the short time we get on earth, despite *waves hand* all of the bullshit around.

Thanks again everyone. I do hope people say hello. At the very least, send some recs :) Especially you, anonymous stranger. Email: damedeshou@protonmail.com (or memail)

I will not post again, as I do not want to threadsit. Hopefully this didn't go too far, as it was not a dialogue, but instead extra context.
posted by damedeshou at 4:30 AM on January 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

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