Creepy is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in relation to sex and often in relation to sexual identities considered to be “other” by the speaker.
I was visiting friends in Berlin last November and had the fortune of going to a sex club of sorts. We were there with another couple, but didn’t participate; we went mostly for the music, as they had a goa/psy-trance night. Upon mentioning going to the sex club to an acquaintance, I got the response, “Creepy!”
Creepy can be a useful a word when used in proper context; it conveys a vague, but strong feeling of disturbance, unease and being threatened. Now you may not want to get naked in crowded club and have sex in front of/with strangers and no one’s going to call you an unenlightened prude for that, but the fact that this takes place somewhere completely independent of you should not make you feel threatened or uneasy in anyway. So please refrain from calling it creepy.
As I mentioned before, for a while I used to write an erotica column for a local site. It wasn’t something I set out to do, I didn’t look through job advertisements to see if they had an opening for erotica writers. It was more something they sneaked up on me like,oh and if you want the job there’s also this that you have to do, 2-3 erotic stories a day. I was a bit surprised, and also a little embarrassed when I had to come up with a sex story right there on the spot for the editor to read, but I had been looking for a job for a long time and was not going to let this stand in my way of a paycheck.
In many ways it was one of the best things I’ve done career-wise. First of all, churning out 2-3 sex stories a day was a real exercise in disciplined creativity and also a huge step outside of my comfort zone. Also, it makes for something interesting to tell people. When a shy girl with glasses like me tells them they wrote for one of the tawdriest tabloids and most tasteless porn sites in town, she will at least get a satisfying surprised look. Its also something I liked to tell guys, I thought it would make me more, uh…interesting.
But at the time it was just a part of my job, a part that I was unfortunately kind of embarrassed about. Looking back, this had a lot to do with the site management’s general attitude towards their porn page, erotica column and adult personals page.
One instance stands out in my mind. I would look at other sites, pictures to draw a bit of inspiration, because I don’t think anyone can compose boner inducing tales of wet pussies and schoolgirls gone wild (yeah, that’s the kind of site we’re talking about) off the top of their head, 2-3 a day. As it often happened, I ran into something I had not yet heard of or something that seemed a little shocking to me at the time. I would usually show these to the girls I was working with at the office to laugh at or to share in the disbelief.
One time as we were commenting on some such thing, our editor also took a look and said to me “Eew, you always look at such creepy things?” I laughed it off but I thought, “Um, well if that’s right then, creepy is what pays salaries.” I saw then that writing the erotica column was considered a lowbrow part of the job. I felt sort of ashamed like I was the one that had stooped to do this work. Like in a way I was the creepy one. “There’s Zoe, our very own creep.”
I’d always felt a little uncomfortable even though, working there was not only a great exercise as a writer, but it also prompted me to educate myself on the diversity of human sexuality.
I think we make something sound creepy when its discussed and portrayed inaccurately from a place of privilege. It’s saying I don’t need to try to understand and educate myself about different orientations and preferences, I can just sensationalize from a place of privilege. I can just say, “Eew, so creepy, but hey, it’s not my fault it sells.”
We’re taught early on that we’re to value what work we produce, that we are to treat it with respect. Shouldn’t this apply equally to the sex industry? This lacking in intellectual and ethical ownership of your product, in a way, it’s actually quite oppressive. It’s passing judgment on while profiting from other peoples very real orientations, kinks and turn ons. Its making them feel weird for having them or worse, handling them in a sensationalist manner. And that, in my book, is pretty damn creepy.
When I mentioned to someone that I felt the media for the most part is rather sex negative, he gave me a weird look and said, “What the hell do you mean, the media uses sex to sell everything, movies, reality shows?!” Of course this attitude is not limited to the adult industry, it’s all around us. The media uses sex to sell, but then turns its back on the product as well as the consumer.
We obviously don’t have to be into everything or even understand it, but a certain a interest and respect should be required. And sure, to some it’s just a job or a business and not every film, website or photo shoot has to be a platform for activism, but every job deserves to be done with respect for the workers as well as the consumers.
A few months later I passed the erotica writing job on to a girl from a Catholic University. I needed to review her work and was worried that she, being from a religious school, would be a little shy about writing the column. Until I read her post and thought, Wow! Now I’m not sure if she was a liberated, imaginative lady or just a good Christian girl in need of a job, but that was some pretty hot stuff. I told the editor she had talent and the Catholic girl was really happy to get the job, but I had feeling she’d also be leaving soon with a bad taste in her mouth.