Monday, June 23, 2014

What is "Adult Content"? Hell, I don't even know anymore.

Please avert your eyes.
The first time I went into a gym locker room when I was a kid, I was completely wigged out that grown-ups were walking around naked. Not because adults were naked--I had seen plenty of that--but because it seemed so arbitrary. Naked in locker room = a-ok. Naked in KMart = alert the police. How could rules be so iron-clad in one place, then completely disregarded in another?

It was a dual morality that seemed a bit pointless. Why were we pretending to be shocked by nudity, when it was obvious from the locker room experience that we could all handle it just fine? Yes, I get that the gender-segregation made it "different," but I think that's crap. If some chick was walking around naked in the Winn-Dixie, we would need to giggle and/or pretend to be scandalized.

I think the same phenomenon is happening right now with sex--this sort of weird combo of pretending, denial, and reacting like we think we're supposed to react.

We are all here via fucking--someone did IT with someone else. Our ancestors made love, they had tepid sex because the ovulation thermometer said it was time, they co-mingled souls and saw God, they slam-fucked on a dirty old couch in the dorm. Everyone* came from someone coming. To ignore that and pretend that sex is still some sort of unspeakable thing that adults cannot even discuss without everyone needing to giggle and/or be scandalized is ridiculous. Ridiculous! And yet it's STILL happening all the time. I don't mind the giggling part, sex is funny, but the scandalized bit, I am just so...done with that.

To wit: Trisha Borowicz has made a smart, funny, amazing film about female pleasure called Science, Sex and the Ladies. It's educational and cheeky. She's been shopping it around to festivals but reports they flat out won't run it because it's "too explicit." "Even festivals that are known for taking risks," she reported via email, though I've added in my head that she was also shaking her head in disbelief.

The film is sort of "explicit," in that it shows stuff like photographs of an aroused clitoris vs. unaroused clitoris, but it's not porn. It's about biology and the history of how society views women's sexual pleasure and how women can best have an orgasm. It's for learnin'. And besides, even if it was porn, these are film festivals, for fuck's sake. When the hell did film festivals get all uptight?

I honestly don't know what's acceptable anymore. Every night on TV there are shows about grisly sexual/violent crimes, but this month Facebook made me take down a photo of a vaguely naked woman. Everyone's mom has read Fifty Shades of Grey, and there were articles in major publications about it, but Google has docked me for my supposed "pornographic content." My friggin' Sunday paper supplement has coupons for vibrators and lubes, but my blog provider (Google, again) has threatened to take down all Blogger blogs with ads for "adult products." Seriously? The dorky newspaper coupon section is more progressive than these supposedly modern, forward-thinking tech companies?

Do we really not get the difference between supposedly offensive content and regular adults just trying to figure out how to have proper sex? Why do we have such a nonsensical patchwork of rules that apply here, but not there? For this body part but not that one?

So, yes, this was supposed to be about Science, Sex and the Ladies, but kind of digressed into ranting. Fear not, next post I will tell you how you can see the movie, for free. People, especially women, need to know how their bodies work. Why is that even controversial? It's madness!

Anyway, tomorrow we talk about the movie and female pleasure.

Til then.

*Test-tube babies: even you came from some jizz.


Jill Hamilton said...

ha, my point might be made a bit better if there wasn't a big ol ad for a strap on dildo there in the right margin.

Fitzlurker said...

It amazes me every single day how puritanical this world seems to be getting. And the worst part is, (as an atheist) I can't even blame religion for it. It seems to have taken on this weird life of its own. Sex = bad: just 'cause it does. WTF?!?

Jill Hamilton said...

Fitz, thanks for the company. I realize a lot of people are offended--for religious reasons or whatever--but I don't get it when people/institutions that don't necessary have problems w/ sex still do some sort of weird, preemptive censorship.

just a lil ray of midnight sunshine said...

Maybe sex has been so wrapped up in violations and abuse on both a micro and macro level that it just snowballs downward, picking up all our psychic pollution and grime, avalanching..burying us all.

A middle of the night thought-perhaps the negativity metastasized in it can't be met head on. Maybe we have to look at and root out bigger societal problems, and until then..all the best meaning, open minded promoters and enthusiasts of sexuality are only providing a band aid to the problem.

That said, I still need you and like minded folks to remind me of the good and exciting out there in carnal adventures.


caitlingrace said...

Yes, every night we can watch people being brutalised in any number of ways, even more so on the big screen but show a woman moaning in orgasmic bliss and ya get all sorts of problems. Sex just seems to freak people out especially those with a bit of authority, murder not so much you can show that shit anywhere.
Good on you for getting your ranty pants on!

Jim said...

Go back just a few years. John Ashcroft was freaked out about the bare breasts on statues! He insisted the statues in Washington DC's Great Hall of the Department of Justice be covered so that he wouldn't be photographed with such filth in the background.

The core issue you're talking about has become more painfully obvious over the last 35 years. Cable TV showing R-rated movies has exposed this giant bit of hypocrisy that's totally American.

On one hand we have explicit violence. It could be Freddy Krueger, it could be a crime drama. Doesn't matter. It's violent and gory.

Just for the heck of it, throw in torture porn like Eli Roth's movie "Hostel." Or how about the 90s video series "Faces of Death," that didn't have pretend violence ... it was all real.

One the other hand we have a couple making out, pretending to have sex, and there are naked boobies. We typically don't see vagina, not even in a masturbation scene. Rarely if ever is there a penis, and the idea of that thing being erect is out of the question. Showing a guy with his hand actually on his cock jerking off is a non-starter. And if there's a cumshot, regardless of the context, it's porn.

I'm learning that this problem is strictly a US thing. People love to talk about how the Puritans founded the country. They were run out of Europe for being uptight freaks. They believed illness was a punishment from God for sin. And thus we have a culture that doesn't mind explicit violence, but freaks out about a female nipple. Also - we have a culture where whether or not to take care of each other's health is a hotly contested subject.

And it is different in the rural areas versus large cities. Definitely different "middle America" than NY or LA.

And then there are the enlightened femnists that say its rape every time a man takes a photo of a nude or topless woman. We're not just talking Terry Richardson here. I've occasionally had to take some major shit when my nude work has been on display. I've learned to just suck it up and deal with it.

We live in America. At least we get to have this discussion without fear of being put to death for it.

Tom Medsker said...

I'm on board with this battle against the wacky Puritan mores that (after 300 years) are still so pervasive in US culture. They cripple our society, stifle free thinking, and expel our most creative minds from important dialog about what being human is.
I'll keep warring against the "crazies" on my part of the battlefield. If I see any of you taking fire from them, I'll come to your rescue. We need to win this for our children.
Now, get out there, be human, and live a rich, rewarding life - love, fuck, learn and don't apologize. The "crazies" are the losers.

Jennifer M. said...

I agree Jill.

Kestrel said...

There is something wring in a society when my kid can watch a cartoon with some character getting brained by an anvil, smushed into people-puddle form and thrown to Mars by a punch, yet 2 people doin' the happy dance are viewed as destructive to the very fabric of our morality.
If I had to choose between my 18 year old having his brains bashed by an anvil or enjoying an evening of happy dancing with his girlfriend, I'd choose the dancing.
Society says it's better if he gets pummeled.
What a wonderful web the religious folks have woven.

Kestrel said...

Sorry for the typos. I'm at the beach and can't see a frigging thing on my iPad in this sunlight. Apple, work on that please. You're making me look STOOPID.

in bed with married women said...

Just a lil ray of midnight sunshine-- for the record, i love your whole first sentence.

caitin, yes. i would so rather see a woman being fucked than stabbed. wth?

jim, yes, you are making me thing how it is such a huge contrast. the crime shows are getting so weird and fetishy with increasing gore, lingering close-ups on (non-sexual) innards, spewing brains, blood, etc... but nipple showing= horrible?

tom, right on.

jennifer m., i agree with your agreement then. thanks xo

kestrel, i love that you're on the beach ranting about anvils. xo

Can't Keep Anything to Myself said...

Can't wait to watch it! Sounds awesome!

cegluna said...

Jill, once again a spot on post. I hate how our society (US) is not only repressed when it comes to sexuality but even views violence as more acceptable than the dirty deed meant to bring pleasure.
Side note: just finished reading a book I think you might enjoy - Hotelles by Emma Mars.

in bed with married women said...

CKATM--it is. but should have said "next" post instead of tomorrow.
cegluna--ooh, it's on the list. thanks!

p.s. check out this from the lovely Kendra Holliday, "Let's Play the Obscene Nipple Game!"

Unknown said...

Excellent post, Jill--there's so much going on here.

I think sex frightens a lot of people because it represents a loss of control--it's a time when the body's in charge, not the brain. And our modern culture has a fetish for control, for turning Nature's curlicues into straight lines.

And there's the inhuman exaggeration of sex that comes with capitalism. We're drowning in cheap titillation from corporate sources, which is so dulling and draining, and makes it difficult to discern authentic human sexuality from its peculiar corporatized cartoon version. (And probably if people see enough of that, it becomes their sexuality, which adds a whole other layer of complexity.)

Then finally, I would argue that because corporations are so prone to use titillation to sell stuff, they frequently assume that's what all sexual content IS--sleazy and cynical and manipulative--and then get freaked out about how it's going to be perceived by the audience or funding sources (advertisers). So best just to shut it all down, rather than maybe lose your job.

It's a really complicated issue, but I love this blog (and its commenters) for its zest, humanity, and sense of humor. Sex is such a human thing, and so important; part of the beauty of every human being. Keep up the good work!

ValdVin said...


For adult content: I get the Vermont Country Store catalog.

My late grandmother did also.

But it has adult content now which it didn't when she was alive.

in bed with married women said...

Michael, thanks for you kind words. thinking about your idea re: corporateness. Facebook will not let me pay to boost my posts (which is probably a good thing, but still...)because they are too "adult" and yet, Redbook Magazine, total square mag that your mom read, has an article this very second called: 21 Little Sex Moves That Will Rock Your World (and His!)
ValdVin, sounds like I need to do some googling on that.