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Hey sex fans,

Today’s edition of Product Review Friday brings us back to The Wood Wang Workshop for our third and final review in this series. But wait, you didn’t miss the first two reviews we posted a couple of weeks ago, did you? Well not to worry if you did because all our reviews are archived on DrDickSexToyReviews.com.  All ya gotta do is use the search function in the header, type in The Wood Wang Workshop and PRESTO!

When you visit The Wood Wang Workshop be sure to take a look at their History Page. Here’s a little taste of what you will find:

…since time began, human beings have sought new and interesting ways to titillate themselves. It’s inherent of our species to take pleasure from sexual arousal. We are in fact one of the few mammalian species to use sex for recreation rather than just for reproduction.

It’s unknown who was responsible for the invention of the dildo as we know it today but historians believe it originated in Asia. Dildos have been discovered in China dating from 12,000 years ago!

It seems we’re not fussy about the materials use to make them either. Stone, bronze, jade, ivory, wood, leather and even dried camel dung have been used to fashion sex toys through the ages.

Ancient Arabians and Polynesians were known to use unripened bananas for the same purpose.

I love fun sex facts, don’t you?

Let’s check in with the Dr Dick Review Crew members — Joy & Dixie, to see what they think of today pleasure product.

Roxy — £35.00

Joy: “Ever since Dixie and I got our first wooden dildo to review way back in December of 2008 we have been wood fanatics. I said in that earlier review, and it bears repeating today, nothing compares to owing a wooden dildo and having it inside you.”

Dixie: “I couldn’t agree with you more, Joy. And ya know what is great about wood? You can diddle yourself crazy and know that all the time you are doing so you are being as GREEN as green can be. I can’t think of a single sex toy material that has a smaller environmental footprint than wood.
Joy: “So true! When I hold Roxy in my hand I know that besides holding a beautiful objet d’art I have something completely natural and organic that will be around long after I am gone. I don’t know why exactly, but knowing that adds to the pleasure.”
Dixie: Hey, maybe some archeologist, a couple thousand years from now, will find our Roxy and marvel at our sex life.”
Joy: “Roxy is simply beautiful. Ours is made of exotic Zebrano wood, which gives it its very distinctive striped appearance. It is a whopping 11.5” long and it’s a double header; you can use both ends of her.”
Dixie: “One end has a tulip shaped head, perfect for G-spot (or P-spot) stimulation. The other end features five exceptionally stimulating bulbs and ridges. You can enjoy deep penetration using either end.”
Joy: “Yeah, I love my dildos ridged! I love the rippling sensation. And regardless what end you use internally, the other end makes an excellent easy-grip handle, even with lubed up fingers. Speaking of which, you can use whatever kind of lube you prefer with Roxy, she’s that versatile.”
Dixie: “Roxy is, of course nonporous, so whatever lube you use, you’ll only need a few drops. And because it is nonporous, caring for her is blissfully simple. Wash with warm soapy water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. You can sanitize her by wiping her down with a lint-free towel moistened with peroxide, rubbing alcohol or a 10% bleach solution too.”
Joy: “When you visit The Wood Wang Workshop website (try to say that 5 times fast) you will find all their amazing products arranged by kind — dildos, buttplugs, whips and paddles, etc. To find Roxy, you go to the dildo page and scroll down. While you are scrolling your eyes will pop and your mouth will water at the marvelous array of other insertables.”
Dixie: “That’s right; and not only do they have a stunning collection of designs, each one comes in your choice of 10 beautiful woods.
Joy: “Listen, you just can’t beat that with a stick. Pun intended!”
Full Review HERE!

ENJOY!

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Product Reviews!

REVIEW #27

Hey sex fans,

Holy mackerel!  It’s Week 3 of our Holiday Extravaganza.  Did you somehow miss Week 1 or 2 of this lollapalooza?  Shame on you!  Check out Reviews #25 and 26.  You’ll be so glad ya did.

The Dr Dick Review Crew has our review apparatus workin’ overtime.  We want to get as many reviews out there before the end of the year.  Because we certainly don’t want to leave you hanging…as it were.  This week, we have yet another hot juicy load of swell holiday gift giving ideas for you.  And guess what?  They are all GREEN.

This week’s Review Crew include:

  • Jack & Karen — Reviews #17, 18, 25
  • Joy & Dixie— Reviews #6, 12, 16, 17, 18, 23
  • Me, Dr Dick — Reviews #1 – 5, 7 – 10, 12, 14, 15, 19, 21, 25, 26
  • Glenn & Hank — Reviews #4, 16, 17, 18, 23. 24
  • Gina & Kevin — Reviews #4, 13, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24

First up we have two brilliant wooden insertables from my very good friends at Jildos; The Art You Love To Touch! Jildos are American made, hand-crafted works of art.  They are produced by a company called: WoodPeckers Roost.  Can you stand it?  They are made from the most durable, safe materials available and they are GREEN, oh so GREEN.

Hart $69.00

Joy & Dixie introduce us to Hart.h_020804.jpg

Joy:  “I’ve had a hankerin’ for a wooden dildo for ages.  I’ve admired them online and even held a few in my hands at our local sex emporium.  But nothing compares to owing one and having it inside you.”
Dixie:  “That is so true. Hart is simply beautiful. It’s made of exotic Bocote wood, which gives it a very distinctive striped appearance.  And besides it’s beauty it is as functional as all get-out. It has a long, smooth shaft that allows you to enjoy deep penetration using either end.”
Joy:  “Yeah, and it’s a ‘double header’ too. There is a ball at one end that is ideal for G-spot (or P-spot) stimulation.  But it also has a more traditional head on the other end, which is followed by 4 ridges.  I love my dildos ridged!”
Dixie:  “I agree, I love the rippling sensation too.  And I like that it’s size is not overwhelming.  It’s 10.5” long, but it’s only 1.25” in diameter at its widest point.”
Joy:  “We spent a lot of time trying it every which way.  And it is safe to use with all kinds of lubes.  We are partial to silicone-based lubes and because Hart is so naturally smooth, a very little bit of lube goes a long way.”

Read more of this review here

Whimsy $69.00

Glenn & Hank introduce us to Whimsy.wh_020820_0.jpg

Hank:  “We have a more manly sized Jildo Dildo. Then do the girls.”
Glenn:  “I just love that name!  ‘Honey, can you please pass the Jildo Dildo?’”
Hank:  “I know, and we don’t even have to christen this one, because it comes with its own name — Whimsy.”
Glenn:  “It’s a nice 1.5” wide and a bit shorter, at 10”, than Joy & Dixie’s Hart.”
Hank:  “I don’s suppose we have to repeat all the stuff that the girls said about lube, care and cleaning, do we?  Good!”
Glenn:  “Yeah, but we should describe it better.”
Hank:  “Oh, ok!  It’s made of American Cherry wood.”
Glenn:  “Think of it as cherry pie on a stick.”
Hank:  “You are such a dork!”
Glenn:  “You love it!”
Hank:  “Our Whimsy is also a ‘double header’. One end is rounded.  Think prostate stimulation…or G-spot stimulation. The other end is bullet shaped.  There’s a combination of swirls and ridges, which deliver a variety of sensations with the old in and out.”
Glenn:  “Mmmm, in and out!”
Hank:  “Have you ever met a hornier bastard?”
Glenn:  “I’m an unapologetic power bottom; what can I say?  And when Hank works my ass with Whimsy, I’m in pig heaven.  And this thing warms to my body very fast.  It’s like totally awesome.”

Read more of this review here

Keeping with today’s GREEN theme we’ve got a couple of delicious products from a little company in Vancouver, BC called Hathor Aphrodisia.

Lubricant Pure 4 oz $18.00 CAD

I, Dr Dick, have the distinct pleasure of introducing you to Lubricant Pure. I am so fond of this mighty-mite of a company from right here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  What a joy it is to bring their products to your attention.

aphrodisia-group-shot-sm.jpg

Ya’ll know my passion for GREEN adult products, right? Hathor Aphrodisia is a boutique company that brings us only a few choice products, but each one is a work of love.

Lubricant Pure is an exceptionally fine personal lube.  It contains pure botanical emollients including Horny Goat Weed, Jujube Zizyphus and Siberian Ginseng, which are supposed to have aphrodisiacal properties.  Can’t honestly say I noticed any difference in my sexual response cycle.  But as my granny used to say, ‘It couldn’t hurt!’”

Read more of this review here

Lubricant Lickeurs — Coconut Orange        4 oz $22.00 CAD

Lubricant Lickeurs — Coconut Orange 4 oz $22.00 CAD

Gina & Kevin introduce us to Lubricant Lickeurs from Hathor Aphrodisia.

Gina: “I’ve never been one for flavored lubes. The whole concept seems silly to me. But I also don’t like the taste of regular lubes. They taste funny. Basically, I just avoid, as much as possible, coming in oral contact with any lube. So when we were asked to review Lubricant Lickeurs I said to myself, ‘Oh ick!”3-lubricant-lickeurs-sm.jpg
Kevin: “I was of the same mind as Gina. I mean, how juvenile? By the way, I love the natural taste of Gina’s pussy, like fresh out of her panties. I suppose it helps that she vegan. Her juices are naturally sweet and I can eat her all day long.”
Gina: “He sure is talented in the department, I must say. There was a time that I was uncomfortable with him doing oral on me, but now I love it. It helps that it isn’t a chore for him. It’s taken me probably as long to warm to the idea of giving oral to Kevin too. But now I’m such a bad girl that I don’t even give it a second thought.”
Kevin: “Actually, she’s a natural-born cocksucker. She just needed to liberate herself from all the Catholic school repression.”
Gina: “But enough about us; back to the Lubricant Lickeurs. Neither one of us wanted to disappoint the good Dr, so we agreed to try it.”
Kevin: “And damn if we both don’t absolutely love this stuff.”
Gina: “Yeah, so much for our natural prejudices, huh? But I must say, Lubricant Lickeurs is a grown-ups version of flavored lubes.”
Kevin: “It’s like Hathor Aphrodisia didn’t simply make a lube and then try to flavor it as an afterthought with some artificial flavoring.”

Read more of this review here

To continue this week’s GREEN, and I might add YUMMY, theme we veer toward the food end of the spectrum. Jack & Karen introduce us to the delicious, yet oh so helpful, teas from the good people at Intimate Teas.

My Maple Cookie 12 bags — $32.00

Karen: “This is so cool. I’m a big tea drinker. Never been one for coffee, but I do know my teas. And since I’m a naturally hyper kinda gal, I try to avoid caffeine as much as possible. These teas are delicious and they are herbal.”maple-cookie-full-product-page2.jpg
Jack: “I, on the other hand, am not a big tea drinker, but I agree; these teas are good. There’s an earthiness to them that I really liked.
Karen: “First up today is My Maple Cookie. I love it; what a name. This tea is a unique blend of premium herbs specially formulated to change the female genitalia and male semen to smell and taste like maple cookies. How fun is that?”
Jack: “Who would have guessed something like this was even possible. I have to admit, it’s the damnedest thing. Karen and I shared the tin of 12 tea bags over a 10 day period. We both noticed a difference in the way we smelled and tasted. Don’t get me wrong; I love the natural taste of she and me, but this is way fun.”

Read more of this review here

Jack: “Next up we have Screaming O tea. The Intimate Teas people get high marks for the clever names and the packaging.”
Karen: “They sure enough do! This tea is a premium blend of unique herbs made to increase sexual passion in both women and men. It is supposed to be an aphrodisiac, sexual stimulant and it’s supposed to intensify orgasms.”screaming-o-full-product-page3.jpg
Jack: “That’s what it says on the website. I was dubious…at first. I figured, I already have intense orgasms, do I really need to improve on that…even if it’s possible?”
Karen: “Things are much different for us gals, but I think you know that already. I felt like the tea really did stimulate me. And maybe it was only wishful thinking, but I felt my orgasms intensified too.”
Jack: “Again, I defer to my lovely wife. One thing for sure; this tea is a stimulant. The first time I had this tea was near bedtime. I thought, a nice cup of warm tea will make me sleep like a baby. NOT! I tossed and turned all night long. But I did have a raging boner in the morning. I don’t know if those two thing are connected, but they did follow one after the other.”

Read more of this review here

Bend Over, Bro: The Men Who Love Pegging

by Gareth May

With one sex toy company proclaiming 2016 as the year that pegging takes off, it’s time to re-evaluate the benefits of telling your boyfriend to bend over.

Men Who Love Pegging

This is the most vulnerable I have been in a long time. Flat on my back, pillow under my ass, legs akimbo; my ankles are so close to my eyes I can inspect the architecture of my bones. And then she’s on me, all hot breath and readiness, a portrait of cockiness and control.

“Do you want my dick?” she asks, leaning over me, prodding at my most intimate space with something slippery and cold.

“Yes,” I whimper. “I do…” and I close my eyes and think of Charlie Glickman.

The year is 2011. Japan has suffered its biggest earthquake in over a century, the Arab Spring is tearing up the Middle East and the English riots are lighting up cities like Guy Fawkes. It’s pretty safe to say the world is going to hell – and at this juncture, to suggest that the answer to stopping this big ball of dirt we call home death-sliding right down the pan can be found at the tip of a dildo is, well, borderline delusional. Unless you’re sex & relationship coach Charlie Glickman PhD, that is.

Of course, when Glickman penned the blog post ‘How Pegging Can Save The World’ his thoughts were far from the above. Sadly, he wasn’t saying the best way to patch up world peace was to have soldiers and cops pull on a pair of Triple Penetrator Dildo Pants. In fact, Glickman was advocating role reversal in the bedroom, as a way of offering straight men an insight—”when sex is about catching rather than pitching”—into their female partner’s pleasure, potential discomfort and vulnerability. It’s something that I can certainly attest to.

“[Pegging] won’t make communication miraculously easy and it won’t fix everything about sexism or gender-based inequities [but] what it can do (besides being lots of fun) is help people develop empathy, compassion, and understanding for their partners,” he wrote. “And the more of that we have in the world, the better.”

Five years on and Glickman’s prophecy is inching (six, if you care to know) ever closer, especially if we take into account mainstream references in hit comedy Broad City as well as new year blockbuster Deadpool. Of course, pegging is nothing new. The 1976 Golden Age of Porn classic The Opening of Misty Beethoven featured a pegging scene; and the act emerged again, in bisexual and queer circles at least, in Carol Queen’s 1998 sex ed video Bend Over Boyfriend, culminating with Dan Savage coining the term “peg” for the first time in 2001 after a vote on his blog, Savage Love (“bob,” named after Queen’s vid, was also in the running).

Abbi considers pegging her date

Abbi considers pegging her date.

Mainstream depictions on Peep Show (2005), Weeds (2006) and Dirt (2007) followed, but whereas these portrayals involved an element of shame or “putting something up a man’s ass WTF” weirdness, Broad City and Deadpool celebrate pegging in a completely non-judgemental way. In the former, Abbi rises to the challenge (with a bit of wall twerking enthusiasm from Ilana) to peg her super-keen date and in the latter, pegging is thrown into the middle of sex montage like it’s no big deal; it just happens.

Erotic content is also seeing a pegging boom that defies demographics. Extreme hardcore producers Evil Angel, which boasts a 99 percent male viewership, tell me that their Strap Some Boyz series (link NSFW) has grown in popularity in recent years. Couple-friendly luxury sex toy brand LELO tagged 2016 as the year pegging really takes off, after the sales of male “anal pleasure objects” increased by 200 percent in 2015. As LELO point out in their yearly trends press release, “the deepening knowledge of gender expressions and sexual identities” as well as “the language of non-binary genders” are freeing people, particularly men, from the conventional confines of sexual identity, gender, and pleasure.

Dr Chauntelle Tibbals, sociologist and author of Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment concurs, telling me that such increasing acceptance of ‘taboo’ sexual play that destabilizes gender norms may point to wider social ideals about sex. “In the past 10 years we have seen such an explosion in public gender awareness, understanding, and a willingness to explore boundaries and the social norms that contributed to the construction of said boundaries,” she says. “It’s only logical that pegging is now something we see in a comic book Hollywood film (Deadpool).”

r/pegging is a subreddit for pegging enthusiasts. Any of the 34,000 plus redditors post on everything from harness advice to “we did it!” confirmation images (link NSFW). I spoke to two of its members to find out why they got into pegging and the impact it’s had on their sex lives. Drew Harris* is an American construction worker. We exchanged messages a few days after he’d first been pegged. “My wife thought the macho man/tough guy attitude was something she wanted in her life [but the expectation] was not making me happy as that isn’t how I normally am and she wasn’t very happy either,” he told me.

A sample post from r/pegging.

A sample post from r/pegging.

“When we switched roles [with his wife as the dominant sexual partner and he as the submissive] everything pretty much felt right for both of us.” I also messaged ‘getsome187’ who has introduced pegging into his last four relationships. “Some of the girls would wonder if I was bisexual or felt inadequate by wearing a fake cock but they got over it,” he said. “It’s like I’m sharing something intimate with them and it brings us closer because there is a kind of vulnerability to it.”

‘M’, who I messaged on the kink social network Fetlife, and who has pegged two of her male partners, agrees. “Sometimes it can be a really intimate moment, at other times it can be dominating and filthy,” she says. “I definitely think it can bring you closer though. It’s nice when someone trusts you with their vulnerability.”

It seems that this shared knowledge of vulnerability stems from experiencing two sides of the same coin: that of penetration. “For a man who has never received anal penetration, sex happens outside the body,” Glickman told me in an email. “So while men might intellectually understand the need for warm-up before penetration, it’s not the same thing as experiencing it. There’s a different perspective that comes from knowing on a somatic level and I’ve talked with lots of women who say that exploring pegging has given their male partners a more attuned, patient approach to intercourse.”

Can pegging save the world? It certainly turned mine on its head. In the wake of pegging, instead of feeling emasculated, I felt empowered. All the social norms of being a straight man in the bedroom (I must be the penetrator, I must be in charge) had literally been fucked into insignificance.

“I think that any time someone is penetrating their partner, whether with a cock or a strap on, it’s about pleasure,” adult star and director of Guide to Wicked Sex: Anal Play for Men Jessica Drake told me in an email. “Everyone should try it once.”

Complete Article HERE!

Topping As A Disabled Person

By Lyric Seal

Topping-as-a-disabled-person

People are often surprised when I say that, for me, topping is more vulnerable than bottoming.

I remember going to a sex party with a bunch of other queer people of color, many of them sporting strap ons and saying that they weren’t interested in receiving penetration, but that they would gladly top, as that was an empowering, safer place for them. From multiple gender and racial standpoints, I deeply understand this, but it is not what my body knows. The reasons are even more complicated than perhaps I am ready to admit. But I am going to try.

Even now as I write this, I feel a welling up in my face, under cheek meeting eye. This is tear territory. I want to write you a ferocious little article, a tasty little piece, like me, but topping with a physically and visibly disabled body is a place of uncertainty and fear for me. Luckily, they say I’m brave.

When interviewed by .Mic  on the subject of being an “alt/disabled porn performer”, I was asked to speak on the issue of disabled people being desexualized by an ableist society. I told my interviewer that. as a disabled child, I was nonconsensually sexualized and yet also constantly infantilized by people around me. There are many disabled femmes (can I get an AMEN?) who know the complex plight of being a sexy baby in a lover’s or society’s eyes, whether or not we choose it.

Some identify with this; in my personal, intimate sexual life I have a Daddy. I love being topped. I love knowing I have someone wrapped around my finger. I love being taken care of. But I am not only this. I am an adult too.

I have choices. I have desire. And there is a fire in me.

When my own desire and agency tried to creep through the baleen-like filter through which I was understood by minds inside bodies not like mine–able bodied people fed on ableism with narrow understandings what my body was for–I felt like this hunger of mine was monstrous, too big for me to let out or in.

I know all too well that bottoming is not passive; even when we are touched against our will, it takes every fiber of one’s being to receive, or to not receive, psychically or physically. When I am bottoming, submitting, opening to my lover, there is that fire too, that hunger, that capacity for desire. Maybe it’s that I feel I can let loose when I am bottoming. I feel I can be a screaming hole. I feel I can be a possessed banshee. I feel I can be a taken siren/muse. When I trust what I am opening to, I can be so generous.

Perhaps it’s the performance I fear with topping. It reminds me more of dance than of song. It feels more visual. It seems it requires precision. It is only naked, or near a bed, or bench, or car, or miraculously accessible rooftop with all my clothes on, about to have sex with someone who wants me to top them, that I get such stage fright.

Socially, I’m a great top. As a wheelchair user, with a visibly disabled body in other other ways too, with the privileges of being neurotypical with a quick tongue, I learned to make speech my tool, my entry point, my point of connection and flirtation. I don’t even always know when I’m flirting; t’s my comfort place. I like to make people blush! Have since I was a teenager and all my friends were having sex with their boyfriends in private and I was having no sex but coming onto awkward boys in public

If I don’t think someone’s a charming top, I don’t like being hit on by them in an aggressive way. I’m particular about tops. I have the best one now already.

With switchy people, with subs, I’m all about the bait and switch. I’m all about the talking and dancing not leading to anything. I am hung up. I am scared. I have created a locus of control through my social interaction, in which you can view me as powerful for my words, my dancing on my own, my compliments, my insight, my tease. Physically, once we are touching, I am less confident of my abilities, or that my desire will be received, once someone feels/sees how awkward the form. What if I am too slow? Too imprecise? What if I stop for pain or discomfort?

I had a girlfriend once, who encouraged me to practice topping her, which was wonderful, and then she would embarrass me by telling new dates in front of me that I was a “big domme”. Proud parent with bad boundaries much?

It was like she was saying, EVERYONE! NEVE HAS A PERFORMANCE THEY WOULD LIKE TO SHARE! My partner, my daddy, actually does invite me to top him sometimes. And the practice is heart-altering. I become a more well-rounded me. Despite my Picasso body.

When you are learning the dance of how to top someone well, in the way they like, in the way you like it, it can take time and experimentation. It can take translation, modification. It can take making up a whole new way to move and relate to another body from scratch. Especially if you are physically disabled, if your partner is, if you both are.

I have been learning, slowly, that while there are tricks of the trade on how to top or dominate someone safely, there is no rulebook (thank goddess) on what it actually means to top someone. I am learning to take the time I need with my gimp body to top in a way that is true to me.

When you are learning a new dance, you begin slow. In fact, some bodies will only ever be able to replicate a dance slowly, and some do not replicate at all. Fuck replication. This is not to say that there are not disabled people who have topping on lock. I am not one of them! But I’m sassy as hell.

Complete Article HERE!

The Long, Hard Work of Running the Only Academic Journal on Porn

In 2014, Clarissa Smith and Feona Attwood launched “Porn Studies,” the world’s first academic periodical devoted exclusively to pornography, although many of their colleagues—and anti-porn feminists—advised them against it.

Academic Journal on Porn

Clarissa Smith, a professor of sexual cultures at the University of Sunderland in the UK, is describing to me the ideal sex robot. “Maybe it wouldn’t look like a human at all,” she says. “It could be like a sleeping bag you zip yourself into and have a whole-body experience. How fabulous would that be? You could have your toes tickled and your head massaged at the same time.”

I ask if she’s seen the two-legged cyborgs from Boston Robotics that don’t fall over, even when shoved. “They kind of look like horses,” she says. “They’re not sexy.” She tells me that if she had any business acumen, she’d design her own pleasure bots. “I wouldn’t be talking about this journal.”

The journal we’ve been talking about is Porn Studies, the first academic periodical devoted exclusively to the study of pornography. Founded in 2014 by Smith and Feona Attwood, a professor in cultural studies, communication, and media at Middlesex University London, it’s since become the go-to quarterly for hot-and-heavy, peer-reviewed research on how porn is constructed and consumed around the world.

After receiving a raft of coverage from the Atlantic, the Washington Post, VICE, and, of course, the Daily Mail, nearly 250,000 people viewed the journal online over its premiere weekend. The first issue featured an article by groundbreaking film scholar Linda Williams, an essay on how porn literacy is being taught in UK schools, and a meta-analysis of porn titled “Deep Tags: Toward a Quantitative Analysis of Online Pornography”—which reads sort of like Nate Silver’s guide to PornHub. Later issues have explored topics as varied as the “necropolitics” of zombie porn to the “disposal” of gay porn star bottoms who bareback.

Porn has long been a popular field of academic research—professor Linda Williams’s seminal text on the subject, Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the “Frenzy of the Visible” was first published in 1989—but its scholarly inspection has not been without controversy.

001

“It has been considered a ‘despised form,'” Smith said. “But I think there are enough people around now who are approaching pornography from a whole range of viewpoints, not just asking, ‘Should it exist?’ or ‘How should we regulate it?’ but ‘What is it? Who’s in it? How does it work?'”

Before Smith became a leading expert in pornography, she was working at an ad agency and pursuing a master’s degree in women’s studies. “I sat through so many lectures about the radical feminists’ rejection of porn,” she said. Then, one day at the office, she received a press packet from two publishers who were just about to launch soft-core magazines for women.

“I was like, hang on, two publishers think it’s worth it to launch porn magazines, and yet women supposedly have no interest in this?”

Smith had friends who were into porn, she enjoyed a good Chippendales show now and then, and she’d watched as the Ann Summers sex shop in her neighborhood had transformed from someplace dark and seedy to a “bright and colorful” spot to buy sex toys.

“I saw these things happening, which, according to theory, couldn’t be happening.” She had a gut feeling that porn, too, was being misjudged.

In 1999, Smith decided to analyze For Women magazine, a relatively upmarket glossy that ran features like “Semen: a user’s guide” and “Women who sleep with strangers night after night.” The magazine, Smith argued, sought to manufacture “a space where women [could] be sexually free” by writing about things like three-ways, cuckolding fetishes, and anal sex in a way that made them seem normal. It was also primo masturbation material, offering “male bodies for female consumption” and real-life sex stories.

Academics and peers she respected tried to dissuade Smith from continuing down the porn path. “They would ask me, ‘When are you going to move on from this area into more serious study?’ They’d also tell me I was really brave.” She laughs. “I wasn’t brave, I was interested!”

For Women

When academics analyze comics, horror films, video games, or anime, it isn’t generally assumed that their scholarship constitutes a ringing endorsement of everything in their field of study. But with porn, it’s different. The topic is so “burdened with significance,” as transgender studies professor Bobby Noble once described it, it’s easy to get trapped in the debate over its existence—instead of looking at it objectively as a cultural product.

But Smith ignored the naysayers and, over the next few years, penned a number of articles with titles like, “Shiny Chests and Heaving G-Strings: A Night Out with the Chippendales” and “They’re Ordinary People, Not Aliens from the Planet Sex! The Mundane Excitements of Pornography for Women.”

She was cavorting with other porn academics and traveling to conferences when she fortuitously met Feona Attwood. “It felt like we were the only two people talking about [porn], at least in the UK,” Smith said. The pair eventually brought their idea for a porn studies journal to the multinational academic publishing house Routledge, initiating two-and-a-half years of negotiation. When, finally, the two were told their proposal for the journal had been accepted, they “sat in stupefied silence for about ten minutes,” Smith said.

Nearly as soon as Porn Studies was announced, a feminist anti-porn organization in the UK called Stop Porn Culture circulated an online petition demanding the creation of an anti-porn journal for the sake of balance. Signatories claimed the journal was akin to “murder studies” from the viewpoints of “murderers.”

Smith and Attwood believe they somewhat missed the point. “We were trying to move away from the idea that there were only two ways of thinking,” said Attwood. “Like for or against television, or for or against the novel. It’s a bizarre way of thinking, from an academic point of view.”

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At the time, the UK had recently banned a long list of hardcore sex acts from porn produced in the country, including “spanking, caning, whipping, penetration by an object ‘associated with violence,’ physical or verbal abuse (consensual or not), urination in sexual contexts, female ejaculation, strangulation, facesitting and fisting (if all knuckles are inserted).” The country’s mood wasn’t exactly sex-positive.

“We have this idea that we can just keep undesirable things out of the country,” Smith said.

That fearful attitude, naturally, extends to university campuses. “I don’t think there was ever a golden age for studying porn,” Attwood told me. “It’s always been tricky!” She says the resistance the pair encountered—and continue to encounter—is part of a “much broader” problem related to academic freedom; at the University of Houston, for example, teachers were recently told they might want to modify what they teach in case students are carrying concealed weapons.

“The social and political context we are working in at the moment as academics makes our work more precarious and dangerous in all kinds of ways that are not just about what we study,” Attwood said.

Yet the history of porn research in the United States isn’t as dramatic as you’d imagine. Linda Williams was able to teach porn with full support of her administration way back in the (H.W.) Bush years.

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“There is still such a thing as academic freedom,” Williams said nonchalantly when I asked how administrators reacted to her porny syllabi when she taught the subject at UC Irvine, in the heart of conservative Orange County, in 1992.

Back then, Williams, who’d already published a book on the subject by that point, would screen whatever porn was floating around in the cultural ether. She had her students watch gonzo porn; feminist porn (“cleaned up with lots of potted plants and no money shots”); and sadomasochist porn (“the theatrical kind…and the other kind”).

The biggest issue students had was with the gay porn, which Williams says freaked out the hetero guys—a lot. Usually, though, what students did in her classes was laugh their heads off. “That’s kind of a protective measure, because otherwise they might, you know, get horny,” she said.

When I asked Smith if she screened porn in her classes, though, I was surprised to hear that she didn’t.

“Both Feona [Attwood] and I have tenure, but that still doesn’t mean that you can do what you like. Also, I’m at a small, provincial university that is one of the post-1992 schools [formerly polytechnics or colleges of higher education in the UK], and we don’t have a very bullish attitude that we’re the elite, so I have to be aware of the university’s sensibilities, which are: Can we defend this to parents? I don’t want to cause that kind of trouble.”

For now, Smith is advising graduate students, conducting research, attending conferences, and, of course, editing Porn Studies. She says she’s most concerned about making sure the next generation doesn’t feel the same sense of shame over their sexual desires as the older people she’s interviewed in her research. “In the research that Feona and I did, one of the key things that comes through when you talk to older people about their engagements with porn [is that] people say, ‘I just wish someone had had a proper conversation with me about sex. I just wish I hadn’t felt so much shame about looking and finding bodies attractive and going looking for it. It’s taken me a long time to understand what I like sexually.’ Why do we want another generation coming up afraid of their bodies and ashamed of their desires?”

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