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Erika Lust

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What Sex Sells to Women?

Posted: 09/27/2012 1:51 pm

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One of the questions I can rely on being asked during most interviews would be, "what do women want?" As a leader in the indie erotica scene, with films and products aimed at a female audience, people seem to think I'd have the answer. Which of course, I don't. I've been incredibly lucky that my vision of lust and sexuality rings true for a lot of people, but that doesn't mean I'm an authority on the subject of pleasure.

Maybe it's just my liberal Swedish upbringing, but I was raised with the belief that sexual preferences were as varied as personality, though it was quickly apparent to me after entering the adult industry 11 years ago that this wasn't the message being broadcasted.

The more women speak out on this topic, the better and more evolved our ideas of sex will be; and there have been several recent developments in this regard:

Firstly are the fabulous efforts by sex-educators and sex-positive activists, who work with a range of media: streaming, television, radio and internet. From Tristan Taormino's podcast "Sex Out Loud", to the wildly popular "Savage Love", Cindy Gallop's site "Make Love, Not Porn" and Vice's series "Pornification", people have a wealth of honest, upfront sex advice like never before. This kind of frank discussion both challenges people's conceptions of sex and empowers individuals to exercise control, safety and enjoyment of their sex life.

It would be impossible for me to outline the recent changes in women's interest and consumption within the sex and adult entertainment worlds without mentioning the phenomenon of the Fifty Shades of Grey novels. If you've checked out my previous posts, then you already know what my objections to the trilogy are.

But, as I hope I relayed in the earlier piece, whatever gets women to open up on the topic of sex is a good thing, regardless of hype or quality. I know women who would've been mortified to discuss sex with relations, but freely admitted to recommending the book to their mother. In terms of my business, there have been undeniable boosts in products like whips, bondage material, spanking powder and kegel beads as a direct result of readers wishing to re-enact or explore the BDSM fantasies portrayed in the trilogy.

Some couples even attribute a rekindling of their relationship to the Fifty Shades novels after boredom in the bedroom developed into a dwindling sex life. One of the most explosive examples of women's willingness to participate in the discourse of sex, one has to marvel at the impact social acceptability has on a topic.

Another example, beyond my own experience running an erotic boutique, of women's increasing role in sex and erotica consumerism can be seen in the film, Magic Mike. For those unfamiliar with it, this semi-autobiographical film about the rise and fall of a male-stripper was a massive success; earning an astounding $39.1 million in it's opening weekend. Of this massive viewership, 78 per cent were women, suggesting that "sex sells" for either gender. Okay, so the film might not win any oscars, nor does it offer us a very complex vision of sexuality, but again, I'm just glad that women are taking advantage of these erotic opportunities.

All evidences that "leading by example" is more than just the anecdote of after-school specials and those youth assemblies you never heeded. With this in mind, I don't believe any single person can say what women want, but I can say with certainty that women do want. And the sooner society, media and business realize that this is the case, that men aren't the only sexual beings, the sooner we'll have greater variety to choose from and representations that reflect us.

 

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