Aug 082013
 

This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section.Shanna

It is nearly impossible to peel socio-cognitive development from exposure to media. It’s relevance echoes from our early infancy, where developmental researchers have found that children rely on these cues given by their caregivers to guide them on how and when act in ambiguous situations. The technical term for this is called anchoring, and it is a skill can be generalized well throughout the lifespan, as we are always subconsciously taking in information from our surroundings, and integrating it into our social network.  We pick up on these cues from the community we are affiliated with, the newspapers we choose to read and with the media we are exposed to. The lessons we learn from media echos in our daily interactions all the time. It tells us that if we keep a beer in our hand, we could be conditioned to feeling less nervous. It tells us what kind of clean crisp shirt is appropriate for a job interview. It also tells us it’s inappropriate to shout in art galleries and grocery stores, but not concerts and birthday parties.

With that said, pornography is no exception to this phenomenon. Even an individual who is exposed to a resourceful sexual education cannot magically neglect the information one takes in while watching pornography. Can you blame us? Human beings are physiologically inclined to perceive and internalize visual stimuli more strongly than other senses, so it’s no surprise that sex we see on screen is something that ‘sticks’ with us. Pornography has now become the norm for youth, with 87% of boys and 31% of girls reported being exposed to it at one point.

More and more, I’m finding the underlying message of how porn is talked about in regards to sex education is it emphasizes the importance of segregating porn as ‘fantasy’ and sex as ‘real’. With that said, it is very tempting emphasize the degradation and objectification found in mainstream pornography, or perhaps has dismissed it as being “for entertainment purposes only”. The idea is peppered in any intro level social psych or gender studies class, and fuels a few of the spicier Tedtalks. I have two main problems with this well-educated (and, let’s face it, slightly presumptuous) attitude:

(1) If research tells us that we are learning from porn, but education tells us we shouldn’t, then what are we supposed to do?
This sounds like a mixed message that could definitely leave the audience confused. If we feel like we are learning a skill by using a resource that has been told is unreliable, then it leaves room for guilt and shame to creep in, which really doesn’t help open up a dialogue. Information comes from all walks of life, and oftentimes not all of it comes from academia and research. It’s important to embrace the lessons we learn, and provide a space where people can talk openly and share these experiences with one another.

(2) It tends to generalize all styles of pornography and lump it into one type.

Of course we know this is not true and that there are in fact, a plethora of pornography that exists, each carrying it’s own brand and message.

Nina Hartley* is an incredible example of this. Both a porn star and a registered nurse, she has always been a strong voice advocating the importance of creating sex-positive pornography that strengthens and educates us about sexuality. This is a powerful message, as not only does it create an accepting environment as a consumer of porn, but also it celebrates that multi-faceted understanding of sexuality as a whole.

Keeping to this theme, Blue Artichoke Films** is a production company that also aims to make films more sex-positive, and focuses more on the intimacy and emotional unfolding of the interactions. This quality is seen down to the nitty gritty real-time editing, in an attempt to captive the heat of the moment.

However, it should be noted that I’m not in the belief that pornography is a substitute for sex education all together, but I do believe the subject could be incorporated in the curriculum with a little more warmth. Sometimes I feel like porn is a subject that is not sure how to be dealt with within the sex education curriculum because of it’s artistic elements of fantasy, but it is not to say that it’s relevance should be dismissed entirely.

With that said, we are slowly coming to the small space where fantasy and reality meet. The trends in media are working towards finding ways to make it more interactive with the audience. We see it in how we watch sports, how we take in news, and how we interact with our friends and family online. This is a really exciting time for us, because now more than ever, it is so easy to gain knowledge, and create a message that can be heard. By generalizing and dismissing pornography, it leaves very little room to make it constructive, and certainly does not leave any room for change in the industry.  Pornography is an industry just like any other, and akin to other industries, it changes and shifts based on our demands as a consumer. This leaves us with an incredible opportunity for us to support and direct it to a healthier outlet. This allows ample initiative as a consumer to educate oneself about what kinds of messages we want to see in pornography, and where we can go to support those who give this message.

*For more information on Nina Hartley: http://www.nina.com/

** For more information of Blue Artichoke Films:  http://blueartichokefilms.com/

For one of Shanna’s posts on Feminist and Ethical Pornography (including what it is, companies making it, etc), check this out: http://shannakatz.com/2011/02/21/what-is-ethicalfeminist-pornography/

Sep 172010
 

Hey all!

If you’re in NY, or any of the surrounding areas, or want to meet a bunch of sex bloggers, sexuality educators, porn stars and more, all in one place at one time (while supporting sexual freedom), then read on. Well, read on any ways.  I’m one of the calendar models this year — here is a picture from my shoot (although not one IN the calendar):

Sex Blogger Calendar Shanna Katz

Photo Credit: Marty Carstens

Hope to get to meet you in NYC!

-Shanna

New York, NY (September 10, 2010) – Tied Up Events enlisted a group of the most dynamic online sex-positive writers, models and porn stars from across the nation and Canada, along with a stellar group of photographers to create the 3rd Annual New York Sex Blogger 2011 Limited Edition Calendar.

This year’s calendar will raise funds to support Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Woodhull is a national organization whose mission is to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right.

Woodhull envisions a world that recognizes sexual freedom as the fundamental human right of all individuals to develop and express their unique sexuality; to be personally autonomous with regard to bodily integrity and expression; and to enjoy sexual dignity, privacy and consensual sexual expression without societal or governmental interference, coercion or stigmatization.

Woodhull is dedicated to expanding the national dialog around sex and sexuality and to being the resolute national voice that consistently raises the interconnections between various identities, communities, and the issue of sexual freedom as a fundamental human right.

Portraying Visions of Sexual Freedom in the calendar are Bad Bad Girl, Brandon B, Coy Pink, Dangerous Lilly, Essin’ Em, Gloria Brame, Jiz Lee, Lillith Grey, Luna, Matthew Lawrence, Max Lagos, Mollena Williams, Nina Hartley, Radical Vixen, Sadie Smythe and Sovereign Syre. A full biography of each calendar model is available at http://www.sexbloggercalendar.com/2011-models/.

The calendar launch party will be held on Friday, October 1st, 2010, at Fontana’s, 105 Eldridge St, NYC, from 6:30 – 9:30.  Not only is the party free but the first 200 guests will receive FREE gift bags stuffed with $10 gift certificates from Fascinations, fun items from Bachelorette.com, Pearl Drop vibes from Good Vibrations, cock rings from Professor Oni and Sugar and Crystal Delights, free porn cards from Hot Movies for Her, pens and a special surprise from Whore Magazine, Eros Lube courtesy of Tabu Toys, a coupon for a free vibrator from Pleasure Chest and much more.

One of the highlights of our parties has always been our raffle with its phenomenal prize packages and this year is no different.  Our sexy raffle prizes include the ultimate sex toy – the Njoy Eleven, an erotica libraries donated by Alison Tyler for Pretty Things Press and by Cleis Press, photo shoots by several notable photographers including JM Darling, a bible purse and three year membership from Kink Academy, a rope kit and gift certificates from Maui Kink, a gift bag full of hand-made sensual goodies from Williamburg’s Shag, a leather collar, cuffs, leash, flogger and sexy t-shirt from Stockroom, romance baskets from My Pleasure, OhMiBod and Vibrators.com, a silky, sensual Lelo blindfold and Evolved vibrator from Tabu Toys, two (2) all access passes to Cinekink, the kinky film festival, a gift basket from Good Vibes, and, because our generous supporters keep adding items every day, more.

Our party would not be a Tied Up Events production without some sensationally sexy performances.  Produced by NYC’s one and only, N, of Crimson Kitty Productions and Auralfixia, there will be spoken performances by Carol Queen, Nina Hartley and Dylan Ryan, sensual belly dance by Luna and burlesque performed by Lillith Grey of Gloryhole Girls and, of course, N.  Go-go dancers will also be weaving and shimmying their way through the crowd.  Also featured will be Professor Oni,  the founder of Lifestyle Images and the first and only “Endorphin Engineer” brings his Bakushi (Japanese Rope Bondage Artist) talents to the party in a unique “Decorative Micro Bondage Salon”.  Using rope as fine as 1mm in diameter, he creates custom designs on hands, feet, bodies and even hair.  This bondage is not for restraint, but rather for relishing and releasing  the beauty within and without each and every body

If you are unable to attend the launch party, you can still buy your limited edition copy of the calendar directly through the Sex Blogger Calendar website.

About the NYC Sex Blogger 2011 Limited Edition Calendar:
For the latest news, a complete list of bios of each sex blogger featured in the calendar, our sponsors, and our Community of friends, please visit the NYC Sex Blogger Calendar Website (http://sexbloggercalendar.com).