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Pre-Internet sex game in the form of objectification of heads, not bodies. Perhaps this  should be called commercial sexism rather than commercial sex, but I feel the creator was making as much sexist fun of males as females. It is not clear whether one could send in a photo for a custom head that would not talk back. Caveman need to dominate.


Playing With Sex: How Video Games Are Changing Porn

Michael Thomsen, 28 February 2011, IGN

Sex is finding its way into games with or without help from big publishers or studios. Bonetown was made by a small group of college grads who decided that the open world gameplay of Grand Theft Auto could be used for a satiric rip, substituting sex missions for shootouts. We wanted people to play it and laugh at it and not just sit there alone and jerk off.

Other video games involving sex and fantasy without other human beings having to be there. Have sex with a pickup from a gay bar, create a self with ideal sexual attributes, promote safer sex with condoms or watch your own stripper strip.

–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist

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Sex::Tech 4th Annual Conference on New Media, Youth & Sexual Health, 1-2 April 2011

A two-day annual conference hosted by ISIS, Inc. that brings health and technology professionals together with youth, parents and community leaders to advance the sexual health of youth in the U.S. and abroad. Sex::Tech is the only conference event that showcases high-tech educational content (mobile, social media, Internet) developed by professionals, highlights national and local program successes, and puts youth leadership at the forefront.

Welcome to Pornography Research Online and participate in it

Our project is concerned with the everyday uses of pornography, and how the people who use it feel it fits into their lives. Pornography is of course a highly topical issue, subject to many opposing views and ‘strong opinions’. And we are not saying that there are no moral or political issues.  But we are saying that the voices of users and enjoyers have been swamped.  In fact, there is very little research that engages with the users of pornography, asking how, when and why they turn to it.

The kiss from Notorious, said to be the most erotic kiss in movie history

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In January 2009 it became an offence in England and Wales to possess images which depict in  an explicit or realistic way acts which threaten a person’s life or acts likely to result in serious injury to anus, genitals or breast. This past week a case was tried testing that legislation. The prosecutor said:

This defendant accepts he viewed and downloaded and saved those images. We know the images were fake, we know it isn’t a knife in someone’s breast. The question is whether it is realistic or portrayed in that way. You have to be satisfied the people in those images are real. Plainly they are. The intentions of the persons within those images, the actors and actresses, are irrelevant. It is what is depicted in those images which is material.

So here is another nearly impossible standard to prove in sex law. And the government lost, thanks in part to testimony from two friends, Clarissa Smith and Feona Attwood (the three of us did a panel in Budapest last year at an event called Good Sex, Bad Sex). On the realism point, the experts compared the downloaded images to Hammer horror films and actresses ‘playing dead’. What larks.

Pornography, Public Acceptance and Sex Related Crime: A Review

Milton Diamond, International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 32 (2009) 304-314.

Abstract: A vocal segment of the population has serious concerns about the effect of pornography in society and challenges its public use and acceptance. This manuscript reviews the major issues associated with the availability of sexually explicit material. It has been found everywhere scientifically investigated that as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased. It is further been found that sexual erotica has not only wide spread personal acceptance and use but general tolerance for its availability to adults. This attitude is seen by both men and women and not only in urban communities but also in reputed conservative ones as well. Further this finding holds nationally in the United States and in widely different countries around the world. Indeed, no country where this matter has been scientifically studied has yet been found to think pornography ought be restricted from adults. The only consistent finding is that adults prefer to have the material restricted from children’s production or use.

Brutish Male Sexuality, by the Sexacademic

The tired trope of aggressive male sexuality is a pervasive one. The story goes like this: because men are full of testosterone and sperm as well as unhindered by the consequence of pregnancy, their sexuality is naturally brutish and promiscuous. Testosterone fuels aggression, billions of sperm want hundreds of outlets and nature failed to offset these desires with physical dangers associated with reproduction. The compliment to this heterocentric sex story is that women, with their limited eggs, lack of testosterone and pregnancy burden are naturally chaste and self protective. Any sexual adventurousness or licentiousness is only done to please men and keep them around so they will help with the child rearing. A simple and neatly packaged explanation of human sexuality. But it’s wrong. Let’s do some debunking.

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I wish I could show what’s inside Madams of the Old West but alas, we will just have to imagine it.

Remittance Girl Erotic Fiction

3 selected points from her Manifesto

1. I think there is a WORLD of difference between what people fantasize about and what they actually do.
2. If you have a difficult time understanding this difference, you should not be reading my work.
8. If you read something in my work that you find offensive, please be responsible enough to stop reading. The appeal of my work is not universal nor is it intended to be.

Rejecting the ‘not in my back yard’ approach to feminism by Elly at LiberalConspiracy

Rather than considering the complex issues surrounding lap-dancing and stripping as forms of employment, they focus on their own distaste at the sex industry, and their sense of threat from it.

The UK Sexual Underground 3 Minute Wonder video by James O’Flynn

The UK Sexual Underground is a pitch for a series of 25 minute documentaries which explore (not exploit) the UK adult industry.

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You go to a job centre to look for work, maybe just reading the offers, maybe talking with an employee. Are you unable to ignore or turn down jobs on offer? Do centre employees say ‘If you don’t take a job soon we won’t talk with you anymore, you’ll lose your right to seek a job here?’ That’s the question. Because if not, then anyone who feels offended by the thought of doing any job on offfer can pass on it. The presence of adverts for legal jobs – whether some find them disgusting or not – does not turn the government into a ‘recruiting agency for the sex industry’. The reporter here says women are being ‘encouraged’ to apply – perhaps when jobseekers’ preferred choices are not available? Someone should do a little ethnographic work in these places to see how the application forms are offered, what is said.

This type of Rescue recurs regularly. A year ago I published a list of JobCentre jobs that included sex-industry related jobs like adult party planner, adult retail staff, bar staff, dancers, adult chatline operators, models, warehouse workers, escorts, masseuses, topless TV actors, webcam workers, semi-nude butler, nude cleaner, kissogram deliverer. A UK government consultation ended by allowing the job adverts so why does it continue to be such a ‘scandalous’ issue?

British job centres offering porn work for unemployed women

Laura Trowbridge, 13 May 2010, Digital Journal

Government-run Jobcentre Plus offices in the United Kingdom are encouraging unemployed women to apply for work on X-rated websites. This policy is sparking a great deal of outrage and demands for the job adverts to be removed. Women seeking clerical jobs were given applications for online sex jobs after they visited Jobcentre Plus offices in Birmingham, Warwickshire and Shropshire, England.

The unemployed women are told they can earn up to £700 a week if they strip naked on webcams, engaged in sexually explicit conversations with customers, and perform sex acts. The adult agency Faceclick recruiting for the work tells applicants to perform “activities that you feel comfortable with” while naked in front of the webcam.

One 19-year-old woman, requesting to remain anonymous, said she was shocked a taxpayer-funded government agency was recruiting for the sex industry. She said: “My job in a call center is a fixed-term contract that’s coming to an end and I’ve just taken out a car loan so I’m desperate for work. But I’m not so desperate that I’m prepared to perform disgusting acts on an internet sex line.”

Sky News contacted the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). A spokeswoman for the DWP said: “We are aware of public concern about advertising these vacancies. We have undertaken a public consultation on this issue and we are reviewing existing policy in light of the responses received.” She added that before 2003, the Jobcentre Plus’s policy was to refuse all job vacancies from the adult entertainment industry. But the policy was challenged in the High Court by Ann Summers, the sex toy and lingerie business, which argued it should be allowed to advertise in Jobcentres. They won their case.

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A search for ‘webcam girls’ just bought me 4, 470, 000 hits in google. I was investigating the following story from The Local, a news source in English about Sweden. I noted a couple of suggestive points in bold in the text and made further comments at the end of it. Note that the statistics treat Sweden alone. And what about webcam boys?

Swedish taxman chases webcam strippers

Charlotte West, 8 April 2009

The culprits are primarily girls who take off their clothes and offer sexual services in front of a web camera. The Swedish Tax Agency, Skatteverket, estimates there are between 300 and 500 individuals who earn money this way. So far the agency has identified close to 200 people. What the majority have in common is that they have neglected to declare their income.

“Young people are usually seen as poorly informed about how to file their taxes. That might be one explanation, but another reason is that their clients don’t want to be identified,” Dag Hardyson, project manager for Skatteverket’s investigation of online businesses, told TT.

In the last three years, Skatteverket has looked into three different areas: pills, poker and porn. During the course of their investigation, they noted that paid pornography sites have had an increasing difficulty peddling their wares as so much free content is available. But they also discovered that the demand for “webcam girls” has increased. At first, Hardyson and his team didn’t believe the phenomenon was particularly widespread in Sweden. “But our colleagues in Holland said, ‘We have a problem, so it’s obvious that you have a problem’,” he said.

They also explained that the success of the “webcam girls” rests in the fact they can speak Swedish with their Swedish customers, and it is that interaction that is most important. The business is entirely legal, but requires those offering the service to register for a corporate taxation certificate, as well as maintain records of expenses and income. According to Sveriges Radio, only one of the individuals audited by Skatteverket has submitted an income declaration. The businesses are estimated to generate around 40 million Swedish kronor ($5 million), at least 20 million of which is tax revenue.

While people usually imagine the biggest issue for webcam workers to be having the nerve to perform on camera, other problems are more important. As with phone sex, it’s an advantage to be able to work from home, but the question is how clients will find you, which leads to chat rooms, advertising and/or being part of big website agencies. Virtual brothels provide rooms and technology and pay wages. As usual with unregulated businesses, workers can get very bad deals. Recently I was sent a link to Cam-girl Notes, a site that describes itself as a place to ‘discuss the cam life and how people can cope with it.’

Most of the sex industry now uses the Internet in one way or another. Not long ago I posted something about paying to watch brothel sex. Let me know about other new forms you hear about (contact form to the right). I’m always interested in the blurry boundaries between commercial and non-commercial sex. Read about the cultural study of commercial sex here and here.

– Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist

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Here’s a sex business with one traditional feature and one I hadn’t run into before. The company, Big Sister, provides you the opportunity to watch other people having sex, either live or filmed. Nothing new about that. What’s different is the sex scenes are filmed at a brothel where

none of the attending guests (males or couples) to the club have to pay to have their desires fulfilled. Instead, they have to agree to consent to be televised and grant all the marketing rights to Big Sister Media for distribution across all media channels. . . Our current library consists of over 18.000 exclusive scenes to date.

The shows have been called  reality sex tv. Those who want to watch pay monthly subscription fees (said to be 29.95 euros a year ago). The website claims to get 10,000 to 15,000 hits a day.

As with other kinds of reality television, traditional entertainment models – professional performers on one side, audience on the other – are blurred. The customer (or exhibitionist) becomes the performer for other customers (voyeurs). At the same time, professional sex workers are employed in a traditional sense. Here are some excerpts from coverage by Bloomberg.com about the brothel itself:

Free Sex at Prague Brothel Tests Taboo as Reality Romps Hit Web

By Douglas Lytle and Yon Pulkrabek, 10 Jan 2008

The 36-year-old bank-security technician drove eight hours from his home in Metz, France, to Big Sister, a Prague brothel where customers peruse a touch-screen menu of blondes, brunettes and redheads available for free. The catch is clients have to let their exploits be filmed and posted on the Internet. . .

Visitors to Big Sister start at the electronic menu, which provides each woman’s age, height, working name and the languages she speaks. After a customer makes his selection, a manager makes sure the client signs broadcast release forms, and then the intimate details are arranged with the partner for the evening. . .

Big Sister is based in a renovated apartment building just outside the narrow, winding streets of Prague’s Old Town.  .  .

At the brothel, the Alpine Room is decorated like the backdrop to The Sound of Music with fake Styrofoam rocks and a forest. Other rooms include Heaven, decked out in white, and Hell, which resembles a dungeon. A giant stuffed polar bear watches over proceedings in the Igloo Room. . .

Big Sister has a staff of 25 to 45 women, depending on the season, and 45 workers behind the scenes. Three-quarters of the prostitutes come from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and they make 3,000 to 5,000 euros a month . . . Average wages in the Czech Republic are about 800 euros a month. .

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In 2005 I proposed a cultural-studies framework for thinking about the sex industry. I then disseminated an announcement calling for articles using the new framework, for a special edition of the journal Sexualities, which publishes work from any academic field that ‘describes, analyses, theorises and provides a critique on the changing nature of the social organisation of human sexual experience in the late modern world.’  Which means the exchange of money for sex can be looked at just the way any other activity involving sex can.

The journal also likes ethnographic work, which means using information gathered amongst specific people in actual places rather than purely theoretical, such as whether you consider prostitution to be inherently exploitative or perverted or harmless or any other abstract term.

Although I received many responses to my announcement, most did not venture far from the traditional focus on the meaning and morality of prostitution, even when they used the term sex work.

Soi Cowboy, Bangkok

I chose eight articles, which then went through the usual academic review process, in which specialists in the fields discussed in the work give their opinions about it. All the articles were examined by at least two and sometimes three or four reviewers, people I found by searching high and low all over the globe. I had reviewers working on these articles in Japan, Australia, Israel, France and a long list of other places. For the same article they did not always agree, however, about whether the articles needed to be modified and how.

The best thing about this special edition is the absence of anything like victimising rhetoric or research results that prove anyone’s misery. Hurrah!

Here’s the Table of Contents for Sexualities, Vol 10, No 4, October 2007. If you have access to academic journals, the link to these pieces is here.

  • Introduction to the Cultural Study of Commercial Sex: Laura Maria Agustín, Guest Editor
  • Performance, Status and Hybridity in a Pakistani Red-Light District: The Cultural Production of the Courtesan: Louise Brown
  • Marketing Sex: US Legal Brothels and Late Capitalist Consumption: Barbara G. Brents and Kathryn Hausbeck
  • No Money Shot? Commerce, Pornography and New Sex Taste Cultures: Feona Attwood
  • Rent-Boys, Barflies, and Kept Men: Men Involved in Sex with Men for Compensation in Prague: Timothy M. Hall
  • Sex Work for the Middle Classes: Elizabeth Bernstein
  • Shifting Boundaries: Sex and Money in the North-East of Brazil: Adriana Piscitelli
  • Thinking Critically about Strip Club Research: Katherine Frank
  • Questioning Solidarity: Outreach with Migrants Who Sell Sex: Laura María Agustín

Below is the full text of my Introduction to the Cultural Study of Commercial Sex (Sexualities 2007; 10; 403). Or here is the pdf. (I’m having trouble with this file; if you need it, write to me on the contact form in the sidebar).

Laura Maria Agustín

The articles in this collection explore how the meaning of buying and selling sex changes according to the social, cultural and historical processes in which transactions are situated. Read the rest of this entry »

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