Where there is talk about rape, domestic violence, sex trafficking, or anything to do with negative sexual expressions, people listen and want to be involved. Rightfully so. Consensual Roughness, my organization, also wants to fight these injustices. We believe that by promoting healthy sexuality and demonstrating the way things should be done and discussed, we can reduce these sexual misuses. Admittedly, there is now a lot of buzz about sex in media that doesn’t deal exclusively with sexual harm. You can find any how-to sex tips you want on sites like Cosmo. You can find beautifully explicit infographics on Bitch Media. However, when a photo project aims to celebrate the most visceral part of our personalities in a way that reflects the normalcy of varied sexual preference, we get afraid. We don’t want our bosses to know we have sex with the same gender. We don’t want our friends to know we enjoy facial penetration. We don’t want to shout from the rooftops or merely whisper in the corners of the interwebs that we have a sexual personality that is different, vibrant, and unique.
Is this love of privacy or is this shame? I’d argue it is a little of both. We love sex. We love giggling about the latest fling we had, our latest conquests. Our society discusses what kind of sex is OK and what’s perverse. We thirst for the delicious adventure that pure fucking gives us, however when we speak it aloud we usually use terms like love and commitment instead of respect and consent. The distinction equates sex with love and monogamy, but not necessarily respect between consenting individuals. This limits us because sex is sex and love is love. Sometimes they overlap. However, by not prioritizing consent and respect, this narrative disregards human decency in favor of obligation and duty. Because what about non-love non commitment sex? What then? In those encounters respect should be given and received, as should consent. Even within the pair bonds, where we can supposedly do whatever we want, we are ashamed to talk about our needs and wants despite being locked to this person by fidelity. America is a place for sexual liberty. That is to say, the freedom to view sex in a virgin-slut paradigm when it’s not so black and white. Despite purporting sexual freedom, our culture focuses primarily on crude aspects of sexuality. The word “dick” falls off the American tongue more easily than the word “penis”; the latter evoking clinical disgust in many young minds. Unfortunately, our culture is steeped in sexual insecurity and sexual violence, starting with the first negative response to masturbation or the non-conversation about avian creatures and insects.
The Alter Ego Photo Project looks to highlight our differences in order to elevate the vulgarity to vulgarity minus the shame. We want to show that we’re all a little kinky and that our sexual health is an important part of our mental, emotional, physical, and relationship health. We all like what we like. As long as it’s consensual, why not explore?
Photo by Marc-Andre Lariviere