There is a great pornographicization of everyday life
In the field of sex, people like to show, but still think, research and talk surprisingly little. The glorious exception is sex activist Laura Méritt, who has been on the road for over twenty years as an operator of sexclusivities, laughing researcher, author and communication scientist. I sought her out to learn how she sees sexual boundaries melting away. To see how the sexual changes and movements express themselves for her, who is very close to the action.
Eronite Let me get right to the center: Where is Western society in the sexual evolution?
Laura (laughs heartily) Just a little starter question. Let’s talk about Europe first. I think that it is developing differently in the different countries. In Germany I observe that a lot has changed. Let’s take the last 30, 40 years, because that is the time of the women’s movement. There we have a new definition of sexuality, away from the normative heterosexual, which only understands penetration from cock to pussy, to a range of different sex practices. masturbation is now part of the official definition of sex! Of course, there is also a very large pornographicization of everyday life, but it is not necessarily as bad as people say, who suspect the decline of values and the downfall of the Occident. I rather see that young people are well enlightened, that sex is generally discussed more, but not really seriously talked about.
The sexpositive movement, the porn industry and sexual borders
Pornography means that it starts at the surface and sex is mostly used commercially, i.e. it has other functions than that of pleasure preparation, but I am confident nevertheless. There is a lot going on among the young as well as the old, who are just now coming out with their sex, and this is also a merit of the social revolutions, and of course decisively of the women’s movement, which fights against any fixed attributions.
Many things have become more qualitative, beautiful, colourful and healthy
Eronite Is there a development that you find particularly interesting?
Laura I personally like the fact that the sex-positive movement gets such a boost and that this word becomes accepted. The sex-positive women’s movement has been around since the 70s, when demonstrations were held against the complete banning of pornography and against censorship even within feminism. It’s also great that young people in particular don’t see any opposition between feminism and porn, fight for their own images and deal with them in a positive way. I very much welcome this and that something is happening in the porn market as a result.
Eronite How does this movement manifest itself?
Laura PorYes is used as a collective term to refer to sex-positive images and a sexual language that does justice to all genders. Feminism is viewed positively. Fears that feminism is equal to hating men or rejecting sexuality have been dispelled. All these associations that the media have stirred up. People take it for granted to be PorNo, i.e. against racist, sexist etc. depictions in sexuality, but at the same time they want to see other pictures. I have been observing and accompanying this for 20 years and I see this also on the normal sex market, in the sex industry. Toys have become more qualitative, more beautiful, more colourful and healthier. And that’s what’s happening in the movies. Soon the discussion, if the art or porn will be dropped. The foundations were laid by the women’s sex shops, which provided knowledge and offered workshops. Today you can find information about toys on every internet page. It wasn’t so long ago that this didn’t exist.
Eronite Are certain labels still current today? I’m talking about classifications like lesbian, gay, straight, man, woman?
Laura. Unfortunately. (Laura laughs)
Eronite You say “unfortunately”.
Laura Many people are not aware that gender is constructed. Advertising is extremely gendered so that it is clearly recognizable that this is a woman, this is a man, that’s how women are, that’s how men are. The mainstream sex guides are extremely geared towards rigid role models: How do I approach a man, like a woman? Mainstream porn is extremely sexist. …to men and women.
Gender identities become slowly fluid, but sexual boundaries dissolve
Eronite Yes, of course. The joke is that very few men are aware that they are being stereotyped. Which creates immense pressure.
Laura Right. That is still very much there. This can also be seen in the youth studies. Teenagers are enlightened and are doing a great job, but what is not clearly man, clearly woman, is rejected. We still have a lot of educational work to do. Here in the big city (Berlin) it is of course great that the borders blur. That gender identities are slowly becoming fluid. This is an incredible win.
Eronite But Berlin also has a special role to play here.
Laura Oh yeah. Berlin is a pioneer.
Eronite Are you concerned about the phenomenon of lust? What is it to you? Where do general origins lie for you, where your roots?
Laura Det sin ja Fragen… (laughs) Yes, I do, quite often actually. Because for me lust is not only sexual, but also lust for life. Rather holistically integrated. I know, of course, that physical lust has an effect on the psychic, on the emotional feeling. Which is why I make a point of always exchanging it. Of course you change over the years. This suggests that I look: Where are you now? What feels like it now? How did it change from last year? Or last week? What mental state am I in? The older I get, the more I realize how flexible everything is. Which is wonderful because it broadens the horizon.
Eronite What makes the attraction of people for you?
Laura This is something very individual. Most of the time, it’s gotta be something exciting. Nothing external at all. If someone says interesting things or has a great charisma, joyful energy, that interests me. I might notice a colour, oh, that’s bold, a purple shirt, nice, but that doesn’t make it an attraction for me. Of course also: not clearly defined genders. I find that much more exciting when I realize, oh, someone is living out different sides. I’m not interested in rigid roles. Nor in thought.
The mainstream porn and sexual boundaries are extremely reduced
Eronite On the subject of appearances I come back to the subject of porn. Do you think that pornography can transport sensuality at all, when sex is reduced to two senses?
Laura Yes, I think so. It’s simply a matter of experimenting even more or going back to earlier generations that had exciting approaches. The mainstream porn is extremely reduced, but you can create different pictures with the camera, different perspectives. You can record changes in the skin, put it in scene, there are many possibilities. We have to get away from the narrow definition of porn, away from the fixations, conditioning, away from this Pavlov sexuality. Sexuality is an incredible wealth.
Eronite …and enjoying it.
Laura Right. Of course, you first have to cross your own rigid socially mediated boundaries. In eastern cultures there are other more progressive approaches.
Eronite What are you thinking about?
Laura Sexual and spiritual traditions tend to come from the East. There are matriarchal structures in which sexual rituals are integrated into life and the annual cycle, now for example during the transition from summer to autumn. Today this is strongly overlaid and sexuality can hardly be experienced in this way. But such approaches come back again: How do you build your own identity, your sexuality into the old day, into the circle of the year, into life? Z. E.g. in Tantra, where again consciously playing with each other, SM with conscious productions or workshops: Make yourself aware of what you are doing. There is a social need for more meaning, more content, more…
Laura. This also applies to sexuality, of course. This is also a reason why many young people seem to go backwards and then complain: Oh, they don’ t even do sex anymore. But it is a withdrawal from superficial sexualisation. Back to something deeper, more binding. If this ends up in conservative role patterns, it only means that other proposals are not widespread and accessible. We gotta do something about that.
She’s a real expert on sex – she’s about to prove it
Eronite offer alternatives.
Laura And not only for the young people, but also for us. It’s a good time for it, because people are really hungry for new, different forms, different images of pornography And they go away, sometimes even from well staged fucking.
Inspired by the conversation, I ask Laura if she knows the film “Destricted“. The title didn’t mean anything to her. So I tell her about this collection of really great “art porn”. When I mention the involvement of the Serbian artist Marina Abramovic, something rang her bell, she stood up, rummaged through a stack of DVDs and pulled out the film. Well, what a real expert on sex…
Laura. Yeah, that’s a good one. Very special made.
Eronite There are people who think that porn is the downfall of civilization. I have a feeling something completely different is going on. Let me call it “social therapy.” What do you say?
Laura I’m not a fan of therapy and psychologizing. I would just say it’s time. If you get too much of one kind, it’ll tip over eventually. Decisive factors are the Internet and free access to media. You don’t just get to have it delivered. You can do it yourself. Of course you can copy what you see, but you also have the chance to do something completely different. As usual, many do not know what to do with this freedom. These new media give the opportunity to spread something positive on a mass scale and people participate.
That’s why we founded the Feminist Porn Award and PorYes: We give you criteria, and then you can watch a movie based on those criteria. To get away from rigid genres and spread diversity instead of norms. I am also a proponent of neologisms, including sex. That words are flexible and that you can use every word differently. Many women are dissatisfied with the sexual words because they are swear words, for example “cunt”. We have worked long and hard on the fact that depending on who says it how, a word can be a weapon, but it can also be used as a nickname. To positively value words is a political strategy, also inventing new words. Get away from the “shame” words. Delete “shame”. Not “I have pubic hair”, but simply “hair”, “I do not have lips, I have lips”. Small and big lips – simply wrong! There are inner and outer.
For a long time, sex was only allowed to serve reproduction
Eronite There’s one important point I noticed about you: humor. I have a question about that: I keep feeling that when it comes to sex, there’s a seriousness about it that’s totally inappropriate. The best example for me is Charlotte Roche, who made me laugh with her books, like Douglas Adams recently. But in the media and internet comments she was torn apart and apparently nobody noticed her mischief. What’s that? Is this simply German humourlessness, are these remnants of religious dogmas, fear of making oneself ridiculous because one wants to hide one’s own lust? What do you think?
Laura There’s a political thing behind it. The laughter is from top to bottom. Sex is a serious matter for those in power who want to exercise control, maintain privileges and exercise population policy. For a long time, sex was only allowed to be used for reproduction. Fun not allowed, abortion not allowed. This has been liberalized. We still have a rather rigid, patriarchal definition of sex, but it’s spreading that everything is okay if it’s okay for those involved.
Eronite Yes, there’s a lot of movement. But shouldn’t we start a little earlier? Shouldn’t it have started in childhood days that the pink pram for little girls would disappear from the world once and for all? That the child decides what it wants to play?
Laura Clear. I’ll give you the keyword “adulthood.” This is about discrimination of children by adults. I think that’s very true, because children are really messed up. Whether that is circumcision or gender assignments. But you have to get the adults to stop doing that first. Therefore: Start at all levels at the same time.
I look at my question paper and notice that everything was simply answered in the conversation.
Eronite I think it’s….
All components of the power plant called clitoris described
Eronite Yes. In conclusion, the only question is: What will Laura Méritt do next?
Laura I have another book out. It’s called “Women’s Bodies Seen Anew,” a classic from the 70s/80s women’s health movement. It is about the description of the female sexual anatomy and since there is still no representation of the complete female sexual anatomy, neither in the textbooks nor in the anatomy or textbooks in studies, there is this new edition. Either the prostate or the erectile tissue is missing, there is no connection to the uterus, etc. The clitoris is drawn as the “little pearl”, there is no erect clitoris, the vagina is a long open tube. In the book, all the components of the powerhouse called the clitoris are described and related to each other. So that you can really develop ideas and use that in sexuality. A foundation that addresses all genders. I would like to see that come into the schools.
Eronite Yes, that would be something. Nobody explained anything to me about my body at that time and certainly not about the woman’s body. I had to painstakingly gather everything together. I will buy the book! Laura, thank you for the interview.