This Week in Kink, February 17, 2018

“Identity” print overlay (2014) by Michael Donovan

Here’s a burning question. Can you build up a tolerance to porn? Is it like a gateway drug that requires bigger and bigger hits to get the same high?

Dr Justin Lehmiller thinks there is no evidence that’s the case. He reports on a new study published in the journal Sexual Medicine suggests that the notion of porn causing a tolerance effect is probably a myth.

In this study, researchers surveyed 2,035 people from Croatia who reported being consumers of “sexually explicit media” (the scientific term for porn) in the last year. Participants ranged in age from 18-60, most (58%) were women, most (58%) were college educated, and about half (48%) were in a relationship.

Participants were asked how arousing they found 27 different pornography themes to be, ranging from mainstream genres like “amateur” and “vaginal sex” to non-mainstream themes like “fetish” and “bizarre or extreme.”

… what the results suggest is that, at least at the overall group level, there isn’t evidence for the idea of people building up a tolerance to porn that requires them to watch more and more extreme stuff. While there have been some clinical cases of patients who say that they can only become aroused by extreme porn, it’s likely that what we’re seeing there is the exception rather than the rule. Also, we can’t rule out the possibility that those individuals might be different from the rest of the population in that perhaps they had more fixed and narrowly defined sexual interests to begin with.

It’s a modern dilemma. You’re dating (or potentially dating) someone and you connect on social media. How deep should you dive into their content, and how should you react to it?

The pace you set when you have new relationship energy may create a kind of baseline of expectation for the future, and we’ve now grown sensitive to deviations from the baseline. If you like someone else’s posts “too much”, will your partner see that as flirting? Or, if you’re busy at work for a week and take some time away from Facebook and Instagram, will they take it as an insult that you are not liking all their posts?

It’s easy to label people who care about this type of thing as shallow or narcissistic. There will always be those who say they don’t care if the person they date notices them online, and many people genuinely don’t.

But writing off the subtle implications of certain user behavior ignores the weight those actions carry for a growing number of people.

Welcome to the complexities of modern dating.

image: Motherboard

We talked briefly about this before, but you’re probably aware by now that technology has a trick that has moved fairly recently from big movie studios to home PCs — face-swap technology. Much of it is created by software called FakeApp, and many are hosted on the Gfycat site, which is a sharing platform that is popular for material then posted on forums and social media.

It has become so popular for producing fake porn, particularly celebrity porn, that there was a Deepfakes subreddit, until last week when Reddit shut it down. Twitter and Pornhub are also making noises about banning the content, though at this stage it doesn’t seem very effective.

The actions of these websites has thown a spotlight on celebrity, pornography and the current state of control over internet content. Wired reports that there is not a lot of protection from the legal system, and much of the content is probably protected by calling it “satire”. But Cory Doctrow at BoingBoing has the opposite opinion, and cautions against rushing new legislation in to try to deal with the problem, saying:

The sensational, visual nature of Deepfakes, combined with the hotbutton issue of sex and porn and the hype around machine learning, has prompted a lot of people to call for the creation of specific laws to target deepfaking. The thing is, we already have a large toolbox of legal remedies for people who are victimized by deepfaking: laws banning extortion, harassment, false light privacy invasions, defamation, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, the right of publicity and, of course, copyright infringement.

image: Mashable

Guillermo del Toro’s film The Shape of Water, which won a Golden Lion when it premiered at the 74th Venice International Film Festival in August, has prompted some people to ponder in more detail what it would be like to have sex with a fish-man. Sure enough, the 6″ Jewel of the Amazon dildo, inspired by the movie, is crafted to answer exactly that question. Doug Jones, the actor who played the fish-man, is taking it well but isn’t overjoyed. He told Vice Magazine:

With a light chuckle, I can tell you it’s not exactly what I’d hoped for… After pouring my heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into this romantic, beautiful, magical role, the last thing I want to be remembered for is a silicone appendage that comes in two sizes.

Kristen Hyman briefly worked as a pro-domme and produced some femdom movies under the name Domina Nyx. After quitting that career, she went on to train as a police officer. Last May, just days away from graduating, her past came to light and she was suspended. Last week she lost her legal battle with Hudson County officials. They ruled that Hyman lied on her application by not disclosing she was dominatrix for hire. But Hyman claims she wasn’t, and had simply been an actress playing a role, and had honestly written “actress/model” on the form as a past occupation.

What does this highlight? That society is happy to come down on sex work as a profession, criticising the decision and forcing everyone in the industry to operate without the proper protection the law should provide. Then, even when they move onto jobs deemed more ‘worthy’ by society, the sex work they did can still be used as a cudgel against them. Hypocrisy at its finest.

She says she’ll be appealing the decision, so stay tuned for what will probably be a very public battle.

feature image: publicity from The Shape of Water

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