The Future of Sex is Masturbation!

Dian Hanson has been at the forefront of the porn industry since the late '70s and she knows all about your sex lives.

The British Library’s Pri­vate Case, a col­lec­tion of sex­u­al­ly explic­it con­tent, was opened to the pub­lic ear­li­er this year. Under strict lock and key for over a cen­tu­ry, the com­pi­la­tion of lit­er­a­ture and scratchy draw­ings was the hard­core porn of the time – erot­ic nov­els imag­in­ing the female body as land need­ing to be ploughed”, as Ali­son Flood of The Guardian put it. Porn has long been infused in pop cul­ture – whether it’s Madonna’s book, SEX, Blue Boy mag­a­zine or the tube sites of today, our rela­tion­ship with the obscene has always been a sub­ject of heat­ed con­tro­ver­sy, so much so that even today – the clos­est we’ve ever been to sex­u­al lib­er­a­tion, the world-at-large will nar­row­ly avoid own­ing up to their fetish­es, for we are con­cealed beings, pre­fer­ring to retreat into our dark­ened bed­rooms than to exchange the con­tent of our brows­er histories.

Dian Han­son, Taschen’s Sexy Book Edi­tor, isn’t one to shy away from can­did dis­cus­sion and there isn’t a load the afi­ciona­do hasn’t seen, or won’t enter­tain. As New York Mag­a­zine put it 18 years ago, Every­thing Han­son has seen in 23 years of writ­ing and edit­ing porn has led her to one ineluctable truth: that sex­u­al aber­ra­tion does not exist. Para­dox­i­cal­ly, aber­ra­tion is the norm.” Being at the fore­front of the sex indus­try since the late 70s, hav­ing held the posi­tion of Edi­tor at both Leg Show and Jug­gs, has giv­en Hansen the cre­den­tial to speak frankly about our sex lives – because she knows all about it; what gets us hot, why twen­ty-some­things are hav­ing less sex than the baby boomers were and why porn has long-fol­lowed a mys­tog­y­nis­tic nar­ra­tive. Han­son is ful­ly aware of the detri­men­tal effects her indus­try has had on the way young peo­ple approach sex and rela­tion­ships today, not­ing I take respon­si­bil­i­ty, I’ve been work­ing in porn for all my adult life. This was not our inten­tion, we didn’t intend to impact people’s abil­i­ty to form attachments.”

While it’s easy to point the fin­ger at porn for the fact that twen­ty-some­things are hav­ing less sex than their par­ents, you could also argue that inad­e­quate sex edu­ca­tion has had a huge part to play. The British sex edu­ca­tion guide­lines haven’t been updat­ed since 2000 and, evi­dent­ly, a great deal has changed since then – porn was by no means as acces­si­ble as it is today. Nowa­days, experts argue that young peo­ple are get­ting their sex ed from Porn­Hub and try­ing to emu­late what they see on screen is hav­ing some pret­ty dire con­se­quences. After all, most men can’t hold an erec­tion for an hour, anal isn’t pain­less and the gag reflex is a real thing.

Han­son argues that the indus­try needs to take notice. The future of porn needs to be a recog­ni­tion that porn is now a sex edu­ca­tor and that it needs to take some respon­si­bil­i­ty for the sex edu­ca­tion of youth and the wider real­i­sa­tion from soci­ety is that this is where sex edu­ca­tion is com­ing from.” Eas­i­er said than done, sure, but for young minds to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between fact and fic­tion, changes have to be made – and site restric­tions are cer­tain­ly not the answer.

Over the next month, Han­son has two books com­ing out through Taschen: the first is Lau­rent Benaim a trans­gres­sive ode to the photographer’s fas­ci­na­tion with extreme and alter­na­tive sex­u­al­i­ty. The sec­ond Roy Stu­art: The Leg Show Pho­tos, Embrace Your Fan­tasies, Get­ting Off col­lides Stuart’s taboo-bust­ing, fetishis­tic work with Hanson’s orig­i­nal text in Leg Show when she held the posi­tion of edi­tor, from 1987 – 2001.

Below, we dis­cuss cud­dle whores, cumshots and the future of the porn industry…

Extreme, misog­y­nis­tic acts are so com­mon­place on main­stream porn sites – how extreme can it real­ly get?

I’m not exact­ly sure why they decid­ed misog­y­ny would sell, but that has gen­er­al­ly been the direc­tion porn has gone. When they see flag­ging sales they just ramp up the misog­y­ny. When Gonzo porn start­ed at around 2000 it was worse than what we have now – they were doing 300 man gang­bangs and bukkake scenes. That’s how the creampie has become so big. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing to me that all through­out the ear­ly days of porn the idea was that peo­ple want­ed to see the cumshot. But now the creampie rules because everybody’s wear­ing con­doms, so the creampie has become more trans­gres­sive than pulling out and shoot­ing on her.

How is the indus­try fund­ed when so few peo­ple are buy­ing porn?

Every­thing is free and every­one expects to get their porn for free, except peo­ple have to make a liv­ing out of it. Now the per­former has to do every­thing to pro­duce a scene, then take it to the tube site and get a tiny amount of mon­ey per view. Then it’s their job to go on social media and try to build up an audi­ence for their name. These porn­stars can­not make a liv­ing from this – this is a side hus­tle to dri­ve clients to buy per­son­al expe­ri­ences with them, be they live cams or pros­ti­tu­tion which some are con­tent with, but many are not. Peo­ple get into porn because they don’t want to work hard – now they have to work nine hour days like exec­u­tives to make a slow amount of mon­ey to try and get by.

Have you noticed any emerg­ing pat­terns amongst young peo­ple in sex and rela­tion­ships that were per­haps dif­fer­ent in the 80s and 90s?

The sta­tis­tics tell us that peo­ple in their 20s are hav­ing less sex, few­er rela­tion­ships and less desire for rela­tion­ships. A lot of this means you have young men jerk­ing off to porn and hav­ing a hard time actu­al­ly inter­fac­ing with human beings. What they see on porn is so extreme that it has become fright­en­ing to get togeth­er with a real woman. How will they be able to match up to all the things they see in porn? What I’m see­ing with the young men is that they don’t know how to have sex – they don’t even know how to relax and get a blowjob. These guys have to be edu­cat­ed to see that sex can be a mutu­al activ­i­ty. The future of porn is going to have to be a recog­ni­tion that porn is now a sex edu­ca­tor and that it needs to take some respon­si­bil­i­ty for the sex edu­ca­tion of youth and the wider real­i­sa­tion from soci­ety is that this is where sex edu­ca­tion is com­ing from and it’s start­ing from the age of 11 and 12. It doesn’t start at 18 – bull­shit. They’re look­ing at porn the minute they can get alone with that com­put­er and it is dri­ving huge rela­tion­ship change.

Now we have dat­ing sites exclu­sive­ly for cud­dling, for the exchange of non-sex­u­al affection.”

Will the porn indus­try ever hold their hands up and admit they’ve messed up a lot of young people’s per­cep­tions of sex?

No, I don’t think so. Sites like Porn­Hub are run entire­ly by mil­len­ni­al techies – they’re not even think­ing about the con­tent, they’re just going via algo­rithms and demand­ing what­ev­er has the high­est views. The high­est views are from the sim­plest things like POV, a guy hav­ing sex with a young woman with a real­ly nice body – it’s not par­tic­u­lar­ly pun­ish­ing. The real­ly extreme things, the odd things, just go down from there. The biggest searched term is teen’, after that it’s milf’ and mature’. Why? It’s about young men want­i­ng to be sex objects and want­i­ng to be desired – there’s this huge rise in young men want­i­ng to have sex with old­er women because they think those old­er women will teach them how to have sex.

Every­one knows young peo­ple are watch­ing porn. I guess the first great step would be to intro­duce it into school curriculums?

It should be taught in schools by a prop­er teacher who is com­fort­able doing this – they need some­one who can com­mu­ni­cate their own com­fort to dis­cuss online porn, in a mixed class. The young peo­ple who I talk to are all look­ing at it and there are very few with par­ents they can talk to about it – these peo­ple have a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what’s real and what’s not. 

So, if the gen­er­al con­sen­sus is that peo­ple are hav­ing less sex, what does this mean for the future of intimacy? 

Well, now we have dat­ing sites exclu­sive­ly for cud­dling, for the exchange of non-sex­u­al affec­tion. We’re told that men want sex and women want affec­tion, but what you find on these sites in Los Ange­les are hun­dreds of men and very few women. The gross major­i­ty of the women are cud­dle-whores” – women who charge mon­ey to cud­dle you. These men aren’t look­ing for rela­tion­ships – they’re try­ing to put togeth­er sex from col­umn A and affec­tion from col­umn B but not let them touch each other. 

Do you think there’s a mir­ror­ing effect in terms of how peo­ple use social media and how peo­ple use porn?

It’s a way to build what appears to be a nor­mal human social exis­tence, because we’re social ani­mals, with­out actu­al­ly hav­ing to get to know any­one. With beau­ty fil­ters we nev­er have to present our­selves as we real­ly are. There’s a film called Sur­ro­gates about a future where you see all these good-look­ing, trim peo­ple walk­ing around and the whole world appears to be great. It turns out these peo­ple are robots, and at home there are these fat, slug­gish peo­ple in sweat­pants lying on Barcaloungers, liv­ing their lives through these sur­ro­gates. This is the future we’re work­ing towards – so many peo­ple are try­ing to be what those beau­ty fil­ters create.

What are your views on the tech­nol­o­gy being used in porn, like aug­ment­ed reality?

I don’t think they’ve per­fect­ed it for porn yet – they’ve been try­ing to get it right. But, giv­en that POV has the high­est rat­ing on tube sites, I’m going to say once they get it per­fect­ed it’ll prob­a­bly be pop­u­lar. You can be there hav­ing sex” with that per­fect girl – the one you’d be scared to death of if faced with her in real life. Mas­tur­ba­tion is the future – peo­ple ask what the future of porn is and I say it’s going to be bright because mas­tur­ba­tion is our future. Maybe the world is try­ing to fuck us all off and con­trol the pop­u­la­tion. It may all be hard­er for nat­ur­al evo­lu­tion because the pop­u­la­tion is get­ting too high and instead of run­ning off the cliff, we all retire into our dark­ened bed­rooms, put on our head­sets, peer into our phones and jerk off – not allow­ing our gen­i­tals to touch each other.


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