When other people think about their past and get a little misty, they might be thinking about things like their hometown and how their formative experiences there made them the adult they are today.
I, on the other hand, grew up op on the Internet. Many of my “old haunts” are sex blogs, and seeing some of my favorites go dark over the years has made me as wistful as others might be if they found out that their favorite, childhood roller rink burned down.
I found independently-written sex blogs shortly after my formal education ended (four years of abstinence-only sex ed). One errant click as I was looking for tips on how to shave “down there” without giving myself razor burn, and I was plunged into someone’s personal account of planning an orgy.
Over the next few years, I read dozens of sex blogs almost daily, searching for tips on everything from how to shave my pubic hair to how navigate my newfound fetish. Along the way, I also found some spellbinding stories of personal perversion that seemed too good to be true. (To be fair, at this point in my life, simply finding ONE person to have sex with seemed too good to be true.)
In addition, these blogs also introduced me to many feminists concepts, which still form the bedrock of my sexual politics. Like, the idea of the “male gaze,” and discussions about consent, rape culture, and the need for better sex education in schools.
It would be easy to think that the Internet would make it impossible for these blogs to disappear completely, but just a few years later, the majority of the sex blogs I frequented are gone. Some authors felt like their blog has served its purpose, and their final post is a goodbye. Others came to an end when less-than-understanding family or friends accidentally discovered them, while still more simply stopped updating as relationships ended or once-busy swinger scenes fell apart.
Still, a few archives exist that are still just as worth reading now as they were then. Here are five that I feel nostalgic for:
1. Erotica Cover Watch: There was an amazing period in the history of sex blogging where everyone was writing about the “female gaze” and “porn for women” — and they weren’t talking about the softcore, soft focus stuff either. Blogs sprung up all over that seemed determined to create a “new” kind of porn, one all about hard cocks and beautiful submissive boys.
In the midst of it all, Erotica Cover Watch asked one simple question: “Why are only women on the covers of erotic books?” This question later spawned a backlash against Fleshbot and got them blacklisted by Violet Blue.
ECW’s work gave me my first glimpse into how, even on erotic products supposedly created by and for straight women, women were still unthinkingly used as sex symbols. Using David Beckham as their mascot, ECW helped me form the radical notion that I could demand that porn could be tailored to my needs, rather than repurposing something that had been made for someone else. My tastes run a little queerer now, but every time I try to find fetish porn where the dude is the object and come up empty, I think of ECW and sigh.
2. Always Aroused Girl: This woman, whose blog no longer exists, wrote about raising children and having a sex life post-divorce, as well as her struggles with mental illness.
Technically, I was far from AAG’s presumed audience: I had barely started dating and children have never been part of my life plan. But I was desperately anxious about failing this whole “adult” thing everyone told me was so hard, and at times I felt like AAG was sharing a road map with me. Out of hilariously failed coffee dates, wonderful and terrible sex parties, self-taught home improvement projects and endless WordPress tutorials, she created a new life and a new business for herself after ending her marriage.
Today, when I desperately want to hide in my room rather than start dating again, I think “AAG got through this, and you can too.”
3. Madeline In The Mirror: The lasting charm of Madeline’s blog is difficult for me to define. Like many other bloggers I read during this time period, she blogged about raising children solo, managing a triad relationship, and the joys of summer sex in the AC.
Perhaps it’s the enviable grace she brought to everything that made her stories stay with me. For a long time after I read Madeline’s blog, I too kept sex supplies in my pillowcases and wanted to wax my muff.
Unfortunately, her blog doesn’t seem to have navigation buttons. It’s easiest to go through the archives by clicking on each month, though that makes me feel like I’m dialing a rotary telephone.
4. Filament Magazine: In much in the same vein as Erotic Cover Watch, Filament Magazine attempted to break new ground by asking women directly what they wanted to see in their pornography. They built a basis for their own particular brand of erotica by polling women in fanfic communities–a group whose desires are only recently being recognized–and fought to have pictures of erect penises published. Then, after 9 issues, the magazine abruptly ended.
Filament’s site is completely gone now, but– oh joy! — their Flickr is still up, offering all kinds of beautiful men for your perusal.
5. Bitchy Jones’ Diary: This blogger wielded a vicious pen against the sexism inherent in the BDSM community while also writing filthy, hot posts about making her submissive boyfriend Jack drink vinegar. Unfortunately, at some point she took down all the pornographic posts about scenes she did with both Jack and her other long-term partner, Pan, and left only the criticism.
No one seems to know what happened to Bitchy Jones. There were rumors that she was writing a book about her experiences, but I haven’t seen anything more about this project. More than anyone else on this list, I wonder about what she’s doing now.
Did she ever top anyone after Jack? Was she ever able to find some small, non-sexist refuge outside of the Internet? And, most importantly, will we ever see the porn again–especially that post where she talks about peeing and putting lit cigarettes out on her boyfriend, Pan? Even though it’s been years since I’ve physically read it, it still inspires me to this day.
[Photo from Shutterstock]