DISCLAIMER: For those of you who are worried that any of the hyperlinks might lead to pornographic content, fear not and click with confidence. For those of you who were hoping that the hyperlinks might lead to pornographic content, you have my sincerest apologies, but you will have to look elsewhere.
Sex is a strange beast in America. It’s not something we talk about much, if you really think about it. The vestiges of America’s Puritanical origins still linger in the way that we handle sex, which is generally by repressing it, sometimes in extreme ways. This has led to a lot of issues that are playing out in the public sphere. You can see it in the continued battle for marriage equality or the ongoing debates about contraception and a woman’s right to choose. You can also see it in this country’s high rates (compared to other developed nations) of teen pregnancy, STDs, divorce, and sexual abuse. All of this because our narrative about sex and sexuality is basically to ignore it instead of having any kind of dialogue about it.
Enter this cool project I’m about to promote.
Adult actress Chanel Preston has launched an indiegogo campaign to create a webseries called Getting Naked with Chanel Preston. The premise of the show is to try and dispel issues and stigmas people have about sex in the hopes of creating a more sexually educated or sexually aware population that is in tune with sex and can handle the issues around it instead of suppressing them. And no, Preston will not actually be naked during the webisodes, but her hope is to create an environment where people can become emotionally naked or, better yet, naked in the sense of shedding the stigmas and preconceived notions about sex that they have clothed themselves with during their lives.
Personally I think this is a worthy project. I think it’s great that someone is trying to challenge one of the dominant narratives in our society, and one that has led to so many different issues. That being said, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk at least a little bit about the industry in which Preston works. After all, it also has some problems.
The adult film industry promotes a great many myths about sex that are problematic in society, though perhaps for different reasons. Many young people, especially men, learn more about sex from porn than other sources simply because mainstream media ends up supporting the biases we already have (#Twilight), and so much of it reinforces the repressive narrative that we’ve grown comfortable with as a society. But since many of these films portray women as always ready for sex and submissive to a man’s needs, they create a warped expectation of sex for young people. On top of that, there are other problematic myths that porn teaches us about sex, such as portraying minorities (both racial and sexual) in a hyper exotic, stereotyped, and/or fetishized manner that can be damaging. For example, lesbian pornography is very much aimed at male audiences and creates an entirely fantastical picture of what the act is like (at least according to these reactions).
Unfortunately the repressive “American values” that have shaped our skewed view of sex have also led to a rather negative view of the adult industry. I say this is unfortunate because the industry is one of the few that is actually creating an active set of myths and narratives about the sexual experience, even if some of them are damaging, but instead of engaging with them and trying to shape them, society at large has chosen to marginalize the industry and those who work in it. Many people view pornography as immoral simply because it flies in the face of the Puritanical narrative. Most people, even if they are not explicitly against the industry, have inherited the stigmas against it and the people who work in it. For instance, they have their own stereotyped image of what a woman who works in porn is like, and in many cases that image simply does not hold true. These stigmas are not only harmful or hurtful for those working in the field, especially those trying to leave it (once a porn star, always a porn star), but they also make it difficult to have any real dialogue about how the narratives in adult films might be shaped for the better.
One of the other reasons I’m excited about this project is that perhaps it will begin to debunk some of the negative stereotypes society has about industry workers and show America that porn stars can provide more than simple arousing entertainment. This in turn could lead to more discussion about changing some of porn’s problematic messages rather than turning a blind eye to the medium or trying to get rid of it (which I don’t see happening in any world outside of one involving the zombie apocalypse…and even then). Maybe this is all just crazy idealism on my part, but you gotta start somewhere.
So if you also believe in this project, are in a giving holiday mood, or want to give Preston a Christmas present, consider supporting her campaign. In the meantime, I hope that all of you who celebrate Christmas have a happy holiday!
Chanel Preston’s indiegogo page has a video about the campaign, but it is part of a much longer interview that I’ve linked below. Personally I almost never make time to watch videos that people send me if they’re longer than 10 minutes, so I understand not wanting to watch it, but I thought I’d share anyway, since I found it interesting. I’d say it’s worth your time.