I review sex toys for sextoy.com. I am not paid (unless you purchase something via an affiliate link), but I do get free products — or in this case, free video on demand minutes on their VOD site, sextoy TV.
What is it about pornography that made me put off writing this review? In this blog, I’ve admitted to all kinds of kinky sex with both men and women, and I am generally not in the closet about anything. I write erotica and about sex toys, and on my FetLife profile I am ridiculously open about everything that gives me a thrill. I know that thanks to the wonders of the Internet, people of all genders and all walks of life enjoy pornography. And it’s not like this post is going to be the last straw that keeps me from that cushy office job that my Fibromyalgia keeps me from getting anyway.
Maybe it’s the titles? If I want to review a toy designed for anal stimulation, I could talk academically about the male prostate or the number of nerves in the area on the human body. In a review of a vibrator, I could choose to distance myself by discussing the relative safety of different toy materials or by lecturing my reader on what percentage of women need direct clitoral stimulation to orgasm (not to mention the fact that nearly all of them enjoy it regardless!). Yet when it comes to pornography, there’s something much more direct and raw about admitting I spent time watching (and getting off too) videos with titles like “Hard Daddy,” “Bisexual Awakenings,” or the delightfully rhyming, “Flower’s Squirt Shower 6.” Admitting not just that we like porn, but the kind of porn we like, seems like providing a direct line into my psyche that little else does.
Perhaps this is one reason why we’re so very culturally twitchy about pornography, where the idea that women enjoy it is still controversial and books even now are being published about how we have to stamp out this ‘menace’ before it ruins everything. We’re supposed to believe that our culture is a genteel one, where perhaps we occasionally use our “personal massagers,” “sensual lubricants” or maybe even the rare “clitoral stimulator” to achieve some release before going about our civilized business. We’re not ‘supposed’ to spend this much time thinking about people fucking, but porn provides real evidence of our raw animal nature.
But if you’re one of those millions of perverts like me who does watch porn, the next question becomes “why pay for it?” Certainly this is a good question, given the dire straits some parts of the porn industry have found themselves in, competing with amateur online websites and the plethora of free porn found on places like Tube8 and BitTorrent. And admittedly, in this case I did not pay for my porn — I was given 100 free minutes in return for writing this review (as a comparison, Sextoy TV sells a 120 minute package for $14.95). I’m a desperately broke writer so it’s hard for me to say whether this is a good value or not. Certainly it’s cheaper than buying most pornographic movies, and people are willing to pay for easy access to online music — I’ve watched streaming videos on Netflix, bought songs via iTunes, and paid £5 to download Radiohead’s In Rainbows. Yet in all those cases, you get repeated access to the files you pay for, sometimes permanently. I can much more easily see myself paying for a Netflix-style streaming porn service, where a monthly fee gets me unlimited viewing of a wide catalog of films than for this kind of video on demand.
If you do decide to pay for your porn in this fashion, the interface on this site is a good one. You can search the catalog in various ways, including for a title or category of film. Suggestions for similar films are given on the page for each. Each film is broken down into a number of scenes allowing easier access to the desired content, and in many cases you can get a great amount of detail on each individual scene. When viewing the film on my Windows 7 laptop, it was easy to fast forward or jump through a scene, and my account was not charged for anything I skipped over, just the footage I actually watched. I enjoyed what I watched, and the catalog is admirably diverse, providing something for many kinks and all orientations; though I didn’t watch them, there even seem to be some films by queer women marketed at their own, in amongst the usual heterosexual male “lesbian” films.
I’ll be back to other sources for my video pornography when my minutes run out (and the fact that I’ve sat with 24 minutes on my account for months while seeking porn elsewhere says a lot) but this may be a good solution for others in less economically dire straits. I’m most interested in using this review to out myself from yet another closet, even if it’s a very spacious closet that contains a majority of my fellow Internet users. Certainly there’s every reason to believe that being stimulated by the sights and sounds of other humans having sex is totally natural. It’s my hope that if we tear down enough of these closets which hide the things that give us pleasure or make our lives more bearable, we’ll finally stop trying to shame people for using them or legislate them away.