How Audio Erotica is Making Smut More Inclusive

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Do you prefer to read your smut or watch it? Some people love written erotica, others love visual porn, and many of us enjoy a mixture of the two. But now there’s a third option that’s making waves and taking the adult industry by storm: enter audio erotica

Here are a few of the ways that audio erotica is making smut more welcoming, more inclusive, and more enjoyable for everyone. 

More ways to consume

Many people find written or visual porn inaccessible for various reasons. For example, for people who are blind or visually impaired, traditional porn videos are likely to be somewhat or completely inaccessible. While many sites offering written smut, such as Literotica, can be used via a screen reader, that’s not necessarily a super sexy or appealing option. 

But audio erotica opens up a whole new avenue of smutty enjoyment. The best audio smut is narrated by skilled voice performers with sexy voices (which can, of course, mean different things to different people.) Because quality erotica is for everyone, regardless of ability and whether they choose to watch it, read it, or listen to it. 

Pleasure focused and sex positive 

Much of the audio porn currently on the market seems to have been created by women and with female pleasure in mind. Whenever I’ve engaged with audio porn I’ve found the stories to be pleasure focused, consent minded, and overall sex positive. They feature safe and mutually pleasurable sexual scenarios. And when stories do feature an element of coercion roleplay or consensual non-consent, it’s generally made clear that they are fantasy, not reality. 

So much mainstream porn is focused on male pleasure and the male gaze. But audio smut creators understand that women, non binary folks, and queer people want quality erotic content just as much as cis men do… and they’re giving it to us! 

I’ve also found that audio porn trends much less towards using dehumanising terminology and artificial categorisation. Mainstream porn sites often use terms that are problematic at best, and downright sexist, ageist, racist, or transphobic at worst. I haven’t seen the same issue in the audio smut world. 

More options for creative scenarios

Don’t get me wrong, porn makers and performers can get VERY creative! But ultimately, visual content will always be limited by what’s possible (and affordable) to pull off on screen. Audio porn, though, allows for almost anything that the writers and creators can dream up. So if immersing yourself in a futuristic, fantastical, or historical scenario sounds up your street, or you fantasise about sexual acts that are physically or biologically impossible, you can find all of those things and so much more. 

More surreptitious

You (probably) wouldn’t watch visual porn while on the Tube or walking to work, right? And while it’s possible to sneakily read written erotica via a Kindle or smartphone app, there’s always the danger of someone looking over your shoulder. 

Audio porn, though, can be completely discreet. Just choose your story, pop your headphones in, and no-one will be any the wiser. You could be listening to the morning news or a perfectly innocent podcast, for all they know! 

This is also particularly useful for those who live with family, have roommates or children at home, or even have a partner who gives them grief about consuming erotic content. (I’ll argue forever that porn and masturbation aren’t cheating, but I know that’s a losing battle with some people.) Audio smut allows you complete privacy. 

Can be more ethical

There’s a huge amount of fantastic feminist, queer, consensually-produced ethical porn out there. I enjoy visual porn, but at this point I prefer to access it either from production companies I trust or directly from the performers themselves. 

For the average consumer, though, the “tube” sites are still by far the most popular way to access traditional porn. And while these sites do contain some good and ethically produced content, they’re also rife with stolen clips and even non-consensual videos. 

If you’ve ever watched mainstream porn and wondered whether the performers are really consenting or being abused or coerced, you’re not alone. It’s a real and valid concern. Audio smut means you can relax in the knowledge that no-one has been harmed for your enjoyment. 

Allowing you to insert yourself into the fantasy

When it comes to visual porn, it’s often more about the scenario than the individual performers for me. I find a wide range of body types and genders attractive, after all. However, sometimes I find myself distracted because I want to insert myself into the fantasy being played out on the screen, but I can’t find scenarios I like with bodies that look like mine. But when all I’ve got to work with is a voice, I can envision the main characters looking however I want them to look. Instead of the pretty narrow standards set by mainstream porn, you’ve suddenly got a whole world of potential. 

Audio porn makes it easier to mentally put yourself into the scenario. Since the action all takes place in your ears and your mind, you can immerse yourself and place yourself into whichever role takes your fancy. Do you want to be the whip-wielding Domme, the helpless maiden, or a member of the couple exploring group sex for the first time? Now you can! 

Sofia Sins actually takes this premise a step further. When you choose the story you want to listen to, you can read a little bio for each of the main characters and decide whose perspective you want to hear. 

Do you listen to audio porn? Whether it’s your go-to or you’re just curious, I’d love to know what about it appeals to you. 

FYI: today’s post was sponsored by Sofia Sins, a new audio erotica platform from the folks behind Sofia Gray. You can enjoy a 3 day free trial to see if you like it. After that, a subscription is just $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. All views, as always, are my own! 

What is Ethical Porn and How Can It Enhance Your Sex Life?

I love porn. 

People are often surprised when I say that. As an outspoken and unapologetic feminist, surely pornography would be against everything I stand for? Well, not exactly.

It’s true that the mainstream porn industry has a lot to answer for. Too often, the large “tube” sites profit from stolen content or non consensual content, including revenge porn and child abuse material. 

But there’s an alternative. If you’ve never explored ethical porn, you’re missing out on something that can be a wonderful addition to your sex life. 

Bellesa Plus ethical porn streaming platform

Today I’m spotlighting Bellesa Plus, a porn streaming platform that calls itself “The Netflix of Porn” and offers a “pay what you can” model costing from as little as $1 per month. The higher prices offer special perks, such as free sex toys and gift cards to the Bellesa Boutique (BBoutique), but the low entry point means you can enjoy more ethical adult content even if you’re on a budget. 

But What is Ethical Porn?

As with many of the things we consume, from food to media, people are becoming more and more concerned about the ethics behind their porn. Untangling exactly what constitutes ethical porn can be a minefield, especially given that the porn industry is still often defending its right to exist at all. 

Here are four things that I believe go into making porn ethical. 

Consent

This might seem like a bare minimum standard, but it’s missing from a shocking amount of mainstream porn. 100% of Bellesa’s content features consenting adults having consensual sex that has been consensually filmed. 

Performers have the opportunity to negotiate with their partner before filming starts, exploring their likes and dislikes. If a scene involves roleplay, performers will be briefed on their role in plenty of time to ensure they’re comfortable with it. 

And if, like me, you’re squicked by all the pseudo-incest (think: “step sister”) content that pops up on mainstream sites, you’ll be pleased to know Bellesa doesn’t do any of that. 

Chemistry and Connection

When I watch porn, I often gravitate towards amateur content because it feels so much more authentic. Whatever the specific acts that they’re engaging in, ultimately I want to watch people who truly like (or even love) each other, having hot sex that they’re genuinely enjoying. 

Many mainstream porn studios don’t give performers much choice who they work with. Bellesa pairs performers who truly have chemistry and actually want to have sex with each other. Because real connection and attraction makes for much hotter content and a much better working environment for the performers. 

Women as Subjects, Not Objects 

One of the things that will turn me off the fastest in any porn scene is seeing women being objectified. This is apparent in everything from the naming of scenes to the ways in which female pleasure is explored (or, often, ignored.) 

Ethical porn puts the pleasure of all participants front and center. In ethical porn, the women being depicted are full human beings with their own desires and erotic agency. In other words, subjects of pleasure, not objects to be acted upon. Bellesa porn is directed and produced by women, headed up by the inimitable Jacky St. James

A Safe and Respectful Working Environment

Making pornography is work, and performers deserve a safe working environment just as much as employees in any other industry. 

This can be as simple as prioritizing their comfort on set, such as making sure they’re well fed and hydrated. Sexual safety is important too, whether that’s ensuring plenty of lube is used or carrying out rigorous STI (and now also Covid-19) testing. And, of course, performers must retain the right to say no or to call “cut” on a scene for any reason. This goes back to consent. 

Performers should also be fairly compensated for the work they do. Making porn can be huge fun but it can also be physically and emotionally taxing at times. Performers are workers and deserve to be paid a fair rate. 

How Ethical Porn Can Enhance Your Sex Life 

Despite what naysayers might say about it, I believe that porn can be an extremely healthy and positive addition to your sex life, whether you’re single or partnered. When you make a point of consuming ethical porn, you can feel good about your viewing habits.

Here are three ways ethical porn can enhance your sex life. 

Get New Ideas

I recently experimented with a new kink activity with my partner. Why? Because I saw this specific act in a porn clip, thought it looked hot, and asked him if he’d be willing to try it with me.

Good porn has the potential to introduce you to new kinks, activities, and ways of having sex that you might never have thought of before. While you might not want to try everything you see, some things are sure to resonate. 

One of the things I love most about human sexuality is its infinite variety. Every single day, people are having sex in endlessly creative ways, many of which I’m sure I’ve never even thought of – and you probably haven’t, either! Ethical porn gives you a consensual window into other people’s bedrooms and allows you to draw inspiration from what you see. 

Enjoy Things You Can’t Do in Real Life

Perhaps there are things you fantasize about but can’t (or don’t want to) do in real life. For example, you might be a bisexual person in a monogamous relationship with a different-gender partner. Watching porn can allow you to express your attraction to same-gendered people without changing the relationship you have with your partner. 

Or maybe you have a particular fetish that your partner doesn’t share. If your relationship agreements don’t allow for getting that itch scratched with others, porn featuring your kink is another ethical and safe sexual outlet. 

It’s also valid to enjoy things in fantasy that you don’t want to do in real life. Let’s say you fantasize about gangbangs but consider the idea too risky to carry out in reality. Ethical porn is a wonderful way to enjoy your fantasies in a safe way that doesn’t carry any of the real-world risk that might come with realising them. 

Boost Your Desire

For many people, including me, arousal begets arousal. In other words, the more you masturbate, have sex, or consume erotic media, the more you’ll want to. The anti-porn crowd would say this is a bad thing, but I believe it can be just the opposite! After all, sexual pleasure is healthy and orgasms are good for us. Why not seek a little more of both in your life? 

So if you’re looking to get in the mood more often or more easily, pulling up your favourite steamy scene can help make that happen. Whether you watch alone or with a partner, the right porn can help to fire up your libido when it needs a little extra help. 

Want to Explore Ethical Porn?

If so, grab yourself a Bellesa Plus subscription. You’ll get access to top content from 50+ premium porn channels, unlimited 4K streaming, access to interactive sex education content, and unlimited access to over 600 erotic stories. You’ll also enjoy 24/7 support, discreet and secure billing, and an ad-free viewing experience. 

Best of all, you can get off to some of the hottest content you’ll find anywhere, and know that you’re supporting a company doing good in this industry. 

Bellesa Plus ethical porn logo

FYI: this post was sponsored by the good folks at Bellesa. All views, as ever, are my own. 

Anal Doesn’t Hurt at All… On The “Cool Girl” and Sexual Expectations

I’ve been rewatching all four seasons of Crazy Ex Girlfriend over the last couple of months.

Fair warning, this post contains spoilers for all four seasons of the show, so if you haven’t seen it yet then you might want to skip this one.

Early in season 1, main character Rebecca attends a yoga class taught by Valencia, her love interest Josh’s long-term girlfriend. Naturally, the class turns into a musical theatre style song-and-dance routine which exists entirely in Rebecca’s mind. In this case, the song is I’m So Good at Yoga, a Bollywood parody in which Valencia boasts about all the ways in which she’s better than Rebecca. (“I kiss my own pussy, can you do that?”)

It’s a pretty funny scene that will speak to anyone who has ever had an overactive imagination about all the ways in which other people are judging them. But since this is a sex blog, I want to talk about this one throwaway line I wasn’t able to get out of my head after my rewatch:

“Anal doesn’t hurt at all /
Most times I prefer it.”

Given this show’s razor-sharp, on-point social commentary on everything from mental illness to dysfunctional workplaces to parenting, there is simply no way that creator Rachel Bloom didn’t know exactly what she was doing with this line. And that’s what I love about it – it’s another example of this show’s ability to pack SO MUCH into just a few words.

For me, this is a statement on the idea of the “cool girl”. Remember that expression, we’ll come back to it in a minute.

Sexuality policing and the male gaze

In this scene, we see the extent to which Rebecca’s insecurities are focused on what people – especially men, and most especially Josh Chan – think of her. One of the main ways in which she conceptualises Valencia as “better” than her is Valencia’s seeming willingness to behave like a male sexual fantasy. (Which makes it all the more pleasing when – big spoiler incoming – Valencia both becomes a much nicer person and comes out as queer, settling down with a girlfriend, in later seasons).

Unfortunately, we live in a world where women are judged on how well they service the heterosexual male gaze. We’re taught to judge ourselves and each other on our looks from early childhood. It’s no accident that 78% of girls dislike their body by the age of 17 (including 40-60% of elementary school girls). (Source.)

As we get older, our sexuality is policed, too. Be available, but don’t be a slut. Service male desires, but don’t have your own. Be simultaneously a virgin and a whore. The expectations put on women and those perceived to be women are immense, contradictory, and devastating from a mental health perspective.

The “cool girl”

If you’re a women or perceived to be a woman, you might have been described as a “cool girl” (or wished to be one) at some point.

So what is the cool girl (CG)?

Simply put, she’s a cis heterosexual male fantasy who doesn’t actually exist. The CG is down for whatever most pleases the men around her. She eats burgers without worrying about her figure (but is still a size four, of course.) She’s “one of the boys”, but still wears high heels and a full face of makeup. She’s “sexually liberated”, but only in so far as it pleases men. Her sexuality is about their desires, not her own.

The thing is, going back to Crazy Ex Girlfriend for a second, is that when we get to know Valencia, it becomes apparent that she is so much more than just a CG. She’s pretty one dimensional and dislikeable in season 1, but we come to realise that that’s more due to Rebecca’s projection than her actual character. (Let’s be real, I’d probably also come across as a mega bitch if my partner’s ex reappeared in town after ten years with the express intention of breaking us up.)

But Rebecca is so insecure that she conteptualises Valencia as the CG – hot as hell, sexually adventurous, every man’s dream. But the viewer, and Rebecca, later get to see that Valencia is actually just as insecure and just as much a victim of the patriarchy. She has desires, needs, and vulnerabilities just like anyone else.

So about “preferring” anal…

For me, this particular line was entirely about Rebecca positioning Valencia as a cool girl who, naturally, would enjoy the same things cishetero men are supposed to enjoy. Naturally, the perfect CG would not only do anal, she’d prefer it.

Anal sex was a particular point of contention in my first sexual relationship. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that my boyfriend was pretty obsessed with the idea (bearing in mind I was fifteen years old the first time it was brought up.) Much later, I reluctantly did it because I thought I was supposed to do it. Because the women he watched in porn did it, the women he read about in magazines did it, the other women he’d been sneakily flirting with said they would do it.

Authentic desire vs. mainstream pornification

I’m pro-porn, as long as it’s consensually produced and the performers remain in control and are compensated fairly for their labour. However, I also recognise that the mainstream porn industry has a lot to answer for, and one of those things is the fact that many teenage boys now think that pressuring their girlfriends for anal is normal.

Anal sex should be approached like any other consensual kink. If you’re into it, awesome – have fun. If you’re not, that’s totally cool too! I actually did come to enjoy it after those negative early experiences (much later and with a different partner). But that was only able to happen in a space of safety, care, and zero expectations.

I wish we could think of sex as a vast menu of potential options to choose from, rather than a space where certain acts are accepted. I have a lot of respect for Dan Savage and his work, but every time he says “oral comes as standard” it makes me cringe. There shouldn’t be any standards, beyond informed consent and mutual pleasure!

If we’re into anal sex, we should be able to express that and enjoy it free of shame or stigma. But it should be considered equally fine to say hey, anal actually does hurt and I actually don’t like it. When mainstream, male gazey porn is the first introduction many young people have to sexuality, especially when it’s not accompanied by comprehensive sex education, we end up in a place where young men come to expect a certain kind of “performance” from their sexual partners.

If you absolutely need a certain sex act in your life to be fulfilled, you’re within your rights to (and probably should) seek out partners who are also into that thing. (See: why I won’t date entirely vanilla people. There’s nothing wrong with vanilla sex and I enjoy it sometimes, but I need regular kink in my life to be happy and satisfied). But I really want to do away with the idea that any sex acts – penetration, oral, hand stuff, anal, kink – are expected or standard.

Sexual compatibility matters. But what that means will vary for every couple and every individual. Authentic expression of desire is what we should strive for, not matching some impossible male gaze standard.

Cool Girls don’t actually exist, and I love the way Valencia’s character arc slowly dismantles the idea one piece at a time.

I wasn’t expecting this piece about a throwaway one-liner in a TV show to run over 1300 words, but here we are! If you enjoyed this, you can always buy me a coffee to show your appreciation. Oh, and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter!

Interview: Porn Researcher Rosie Hodsdon

I was thrilled when Rosie Hodsdon reached out to volunteer to be an interview subject. I’ve known her through the UK kink scene for a while and she’s totally lovely as well as ridiculously smart. Here, we chat sex and relationships, academic porn research, and why the Digital Economy Bill sucks. 

A picture of Rosie Hodsdon, a white woman in her 20s with shoulder length brown hair. She is wearing a blue jacket and smiling at the camera. There are flowers in the background.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I am currently working towards my PhD at Northumbria University, looking at the regulation of online pornography in the UK and how this affects the people who produce it. 

What made you want to get into porn research?

My research interests float around sexualities more broadly, and this stems from the failure that was my school’s sex education! I felt incredibly alienated from everything we were taught and had to find the information that I felt I needed out for myself, and was very lucky to be able to do this at a time when the internet made this a little easier! I knew that I never wanted people to feel as alienated as I did growing up, and wanted to be someone who helped others to learn about the range of sexualities out there in a safe and supportive way.

To me, porn forms just one part of that much wider sphere of things, and I have worked, or would love to work, on projects concerning kink, polyamory and sex work as well. [My work is] about dispelling misconceptions surrounding sexuality more broadly and wanting to work towards a society where these things are free from stigma and judgement. 

What’s your background and how did you break into this work?

Almost by accident, really! I did my first degree in Anthropology and Sociology and I knew as soon as I started that I wanted to focus on sexualities research. Towards the end of my undergraduate degree, I had a guest lecture on my Sociology of Gender and Sexuality module from Professor Clarissa Smith on extreme pornography, which I found fascinating. At the same time, the AVMS regulations had been passed, so pornography was at the forefront of my mind. However, the more I tried to read into academic research on the porn industry, the more I noticed that the voices of those who worked in the industry were rather absent, so when I got an email in my inbox asking for PhD proposals relating to law and sexuality, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. 

What’s the most challenging thing about your work?

There’s a few things that spring to mind, which all cover somewhat different aspects of what I do!

The first problem is somewhat inherent to academia, which is that I can’t ever really escape my work – I can’t go home at the end of a work day and forget about it, because it’s always going to be in my mind and if it’s in my mind, then I’m thinking on it and working!

The second is how frustrating it can be. There’s something very futile about trying to work for a better understanding of sexuality and sex work in a society where everything seems to be pushing back against it – everything from the Digital Economy Act to FOSTA/SESTA. Even in the few days that I’ve been working on this interview, Tumblr has announced its porn ban and Facebook has tightened their control over what language you can use.

The third is that the work itself can be pretty misunderstood and stigmatised. I’m very wary of saying so, because the stigma attached to this academic work really can’t be compared to the stigma attached to actually making porn, and I wouldn’t want to ignore that. But I have had a lot of judgement myself because of what I do, from strangers on the internet all the way to previous partners. Shout-out to my ex specifically, who told me that no one else would ever love me because of what I do. Look at me now, dickbag!

What about the most rewarding thing?

I get to meet some incredible people who are doing some fantastic work, both as producers and as activists. And sometimes I get to be considered amongst them as well! Feeling like I have the ability to change people’s viewpoints or give them a new perspective on things is both very powerful and very humbling, and I feel a huge responsibility with it, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. 

Who’s your favourite porn performer and why? What about your favourite production company? 

I have to pick just one? I’m not going to play by these rules! [Spoken like a true polyamorist! – Amy] There are some amazing performers who represent the industry in such a positive way, both in the US and the UK.

Stoya was the first person I encountered who combined porn with activism, and I’ve appreciated her work ever since. I’m also a huge fan of Pandora/Blake, who works tirelessly to support sexual freedom. Jiz Lee has done some amazing work, and their book, Coming Out Like a Porn Star, has been hugely influential to me in its approach to centering performer voices.

As for my favourite company, it has to be Crash Pad Series! It’s radical, queer, kinky, feminist-grounded porn which focuses on a fair production process and has the inimitable Shine Louise Houston at its helm, also fighting for new approaches to sexuality in society more broadly. And it’s hot. 

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the incoming age verification regulations to access online porn in the UK. What’s your take? 

Where do I start!? The whole thing is a tangled mess of clusterfuck. I could spend hours ranting about this, so I’ll do what I can to condense why the entire thing is a terrible idea. It’s time for some bullet points.

  • The rationale behind the law is to “protect children”, and this is based on fundamentally flawed evidence. The study which forms the basis of the legislation, carried out by the NSPCC, has since been discredited by 37 academics for poor methods and conclusions which stretched far beyond the scope of the study. This is no basis for legislation.
  • Furthermore, what are we protecting children from? Of course no one should have to see porn without wanting to, but this does not just apply to children. There is no evidence which proves that children are harmed en masse by watching pornography. In studies which have explored young people’s motivations for viewing such material, the overwhelming theme is that pornography allows them to explore their sexuality and learn about sex in a way that they otherwise do not have access to. Pornography should not be a substitute for sex education, and this can only be solved with a drastic overhaul of the SRE curriculum. Porn should form a part of this, but so should issues of queer identity, pleasure and safe sex practices. All of these are currently very much lacking in the UK (and in most other places!). 
  • The laws are also almost certainly going to have the least impact on young people, given that they are generally far more technologically literate than a lot of adults. Anyone, including young people, can just get around these restrictions through the use of a VPN.  On a practical level, it won’t work.
  • So what will it do? For the consumer, it will place their private personal information in the hands of companies who are not required to enforce stringent protections of this data. As much as I would like to live in a world where people are not shamed for their sexual desires and preferences, this is not currently the case. We can see in countless examples how information about people’s non-normative sexual preferences has had major real-world consequences, such as losing their jobs or custody of their children. A database which stores information about what porn people watch? Hackers are going to have a field day.
  • Finally – given that this is where my research lies! – it’s going to decimate the porn industry. The financial impact is likely to be significant, particularly for smaller companies with more niche audiences, who are likely to struggle to implement AV systems from an economic standpoint. These are often the studios which produce explicitly ethical, feminist, queer, kink pornography so to lose these would make the industry even more homogeneous and less diverse. There’s also the emotional impact of the regulations to consider – people are fearing for their jobs and businesses. The government is telling people that their work is actively harmful for society. Their own sexualities are being delegitimised. And when you consider further that people with a significant background in porn may well find it harder to find “square” work due to the stigma attached to sex work more broadly, people are very worried about their future. 

Ultimately, the AV laws are like trying to fill in the Gran Canyon with a bucket and spade. I’m going to actually be rather lazy here and take a quote from my own response from the BBFC consultation of which I am rather proud:

Age verification seems to be merely an ineffective, unsubstantiated patch-up for a much wider social issue with regards to how we inform young people about sex and our wider sexual culture– including pornography. Young people are desperate for accurate, inclusive, informed sex education, which produces greater positive outcomes for their sexual, emotional and relationship wellbeing. Focusing on age verification serves to mask that problem rather than confront it, and may instead be detrimental to the development of sexual knowledge if not supported by compulsory and comprehensive sex education. This would be a much more effective use of government resources.”

They rest on fundamentally-flawed foundations of research and are likely to cause a significant amount of social harm.

What’s something that people always misunderstand about your work?

People think that I sit around just watching porn all day. They’re not wrong, but I then have to write about it afterwards. People seem to find that part much less sexy. 

What do you really wish everyone understood about pornography?

Ooh, this is a really interesting one! There’s a lot I could say here, so I’ll break it down into some more bullet points:

  • That (most) porn costs money to make, and all of it takes work. Pay for your damn porn. Or, at least, access it for free only directly from creators, not through any pirated means.
  • That porn performers (and producers) are human! There’s a narrative in anti-porn discourse which tends to paint performers particularly as being nothing more than vapid, blow-up fuckdolls, which not only removes their agency and autonomy, but also reduces them to their having sex. We live in an age now where it’s easier than ever to move past this image – we have performers doing some amazing activist work or simply engaging with their fans on social media, and the image that persists of people, particularly women, in porn as being either a mindless set of holes or an exploited victim, denies them their personhood,
  • That it’s not a public health danger. There is no research out there which proves that porn is inherently harmful, and while I would never want to belittle any individual issues that pornography has caused (because yes, people can have issues with it and people who do need appropriate support), it does not do this on a large scale.
  • That pornography can be massively positive. Emerging research is starting to show that porn isn’t just used by consumers to get off, though that’s part of it too. It’s a way to explore their sexuality and identity, a way to connect with others (if you’ve never shared the Lemon Stealing Whores introduction with your friends, I recommend it), an education resource, a method of stress relief, and much more. 
  • Finally, that it’s okay not to like pornography! Whether that’s a particular type or the genre as a whole – as much as I’m positive about what pornography is, what it can do and who makes it, I don’t expect everyone to like it. All I want is for it to be respected as a form of labour and as a creative product, and for the freedom of others to be able to access it and make it should they choose to. 

Who inspires you personally and professionally?

On a professional level, there are so many people I want to name here! First of all, I have to note the amazing things that my participants have shared with me over the course of my research, and their openness and trust with me is massively motivating.

Secondly, my PhD supervisory team – Chris Ashford, Tony Ward and Laura Graham – who continue to blow my mind and push me to succeed, even when I want to give up, and whose research has paved the way for someone like me to do something like this.

Thirdly, the tireless activism of Pandora/Blake and Myles Jackman. I’m so in awe of the both of them that even now, having met both multiple times, they still scare me slightly!

Fourth (and finally, for this part of the question), the awesome communities that my research has allowed me to become immersed in – academics, sex work activists, porn producers and creators – who are all doing such amazing things themselves!

On a personal level, I am very lucky to be surrounded by some incredible people. My partner, Lewis; my boyfriend, Willtom; and my girlfriend, Tiggy, have all provided me with invaluable support and happiness. They push me to keep going even when I just want to throw my thesis in a fire! (They’re also hella cute). I also have an amazing family, who have dealt with trying to explain my PhD topic to far too many people! I hate feeling like I’m “lucky” to have their support, because it should be a given. But I know that that’s not always the case and that I am grateful that they’ve not disowned me yet. And I can’t not also mention the lovely people of the Durham, Leeds and Reading kink scenes, who are unfailingly wonderful and who have also supported me along the way. 

Who’s your favourite sex educator and why?

So much of my inspiration to enter sexualities education (in a sense) myself came from Scarleteen, so I’d like to say their entire website! Also, my entire Twitter feed has been improved since introducing Alix Fox into its mix. She combines some spectacular puns with activism and awareness work, and I’m always impressed by her willingness to reach out and continue learning from others. [We love Alex here at C&K! – Amy]

What’s something you used to believe – about sex, relationships or porn – that you don’t believe any more?

I feel like there’s a tendency to put romantic love on a pedestal, and as has probably been demonstrated in this interview, there are so many other forms of relationships that can be just as wonderful, supportive and fulfilling.

And just for fun because it is “Coffee & Kink” – do you like coffee? How do you take it?

…I don’t. Unless *insert enema joke here*? 

(Please don’t hate me!)

Thank you so much to Rosie for her time and for the awesome work she’s doing, which will undoubtedly benefit all of us – when porn and sex work are destigmatised, all of us gain greater sexual freedom. You can keep up with Rosie via her Twitter, and as ever if YOU are doing something awesome in the field of sex or relationships and would like to be featured on the blog, hit me up.


[Podcast Review] The Ersties

A cartoon cover image from The Ersties podcastAnyone who knows me will know that I love podcasts. I drive a lot for my day job, so listening to podcasts (and the occasional audiobook) is how I entertain myself and make the most of my driving time. I have learned so much from the various shows I listen to, and I’m always looking for new ones. So I was thrilled when the lovely folks at The Ersties Podcast reached out to me and asked me to work together.

Ethical Porn and Fascinating Women

Ersties is an ethical, feminist porn site. They describe their work as a “…natural exhibition of our sexuality; all natural girls in all natural situations with no scripts, demands or expectations!” Run by women, they are committed to respectful treatment of their performers, fair payment and genuine passion in their scenes.

The Ersties podcast, hosting conversations about all aspects of sexuality, sex positivity and the adult industry, is an obvious progression of this ethos. The four co-hosts are Paulita Pappel, Lina Bembe, Olivia and Pandora. Each of them has extensive experience in various areas of the adult industry including performing, directing, producing, editing ad more. Each of the four women brings their unique lived experiences and voice to the show. The chemistry between the team is a huge part of what makes it all work so well. They’re friendly, funny and open. Really, it’s like sitting down for coffee with four of your best sex positive friends!

What it’s all about…

Most episodes contain a mix of general chat about their lives and adventures in the world of feminist porn, and discussion around a specific topic of the month. Occasionally, there are also listener questions. The second episode, for example, featured a fascinating discussion inspired by a reader question on sex positivity (or lack thereof) in the communities the presenters grew up in – they all live in Germany now, but come from a diverse mix of backgrounds.

A new episode comes out on the first Friday of each month. Topics covered so far include BDSM, polyamory, why you should pay for your porn, and censorship in the UK. The team obviously have a well-connected network of experts to call upon, and these voices add nicely to the conversations. I particularly enjoyed Censorship Part 1 (The Great British Firewall) where they interviewed “Obscenity Lawyer” extraordinaire, Myles Jackman, and the amazing Blake of Dreams of Spanking. I’m really excited to see what they come out with next and which other experts they talk to.

Give it a listen!

The world needs more open, honest conversations about sex. It also desperately needs more ethical, feminist porn. The Ersties Podcast team are doing their bit to address these needs and to further the conversation on sex positivity, porn literacy, sexual freedom, anti-censorship and more. I can’t wait to see what this fantastic team of women do next!

This post was kindly sponsored by The Ersties Podcast. All views are, and will always be, my own. If you sign up to a membership using my affiliate link, I will make a small commission – and you’ll be supporting ethical porn, which is so important in the age of free tube sites and censorship. You can listen to The Ersties podcast for free wherever you get your podcasts. Image is property of The Ersties Podcast.