Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Than Just Sex, Fable J. Hill ©

Les Facettes De La Petite Morte in English meants Beautiful Agony. And Beautiful Agony is the perfect phrase to describe what can be found by logging onto this site. When I first heard about this, I was intrigued. I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of porn. It's so graphic and the pictures I come up with in my mind are much prettier than a lot of what is digitally captured and put out there. Somehow the images in porno movies or on web-sites never quite do it for me--I guess they just dont seem real. I much prefer erotica because a huge part of being sexual is what goes on in the mind and those subtle cues that happen in the body, which can be lost on camera when everything is so focused on the explicit exposure of genitalia.

The experience of Beautiful Agony is anything but 2-Dimensional. This is a web-site on which people share some of the most personal moments they will ever experience, and do so with complete vulnerability: They send in video footage of themselves getting off. The majority of people send in footage of reaching orgasm by themselves, but as with everything, there are exceptions to the rule. There is feed of people having sex, having a partner or friend use a vibrator on them, or even mutually masturbating in groups to the mantra of "We will keep our hands to ourselves." (I may have to borrow that line for a story somewhere down the road.) The results of this ametuer operation is incredibly erotic, and moved me in more ways than just turning me on.

First of all, there are no body shots, only faces. The web-site is careful to distinguish that they are not in the business of pornography. This is about people sharing a private, albeit sexy as hell, experience with the world. The absence of nudity is not the only thing that surprised me about, though. I'm not sure what this says about me as a person or society as a whole, but was somewhat caught of guard by the realization that men were also part of this project. I don't know why that should suprise me--men are just as sexual as women. Maybe it is just that I have always subscribed to the notion that women are highly sexualized in the media to hold men's interest, not the other way around. Then I can hear myself saying these words, and I wonder, who ever said that women have to by sexualized for men or vice versa? Why can't a woman be sexy for another woman, or for no one at all? And it seems like maybe I have forgotten all that gender-equality and orientation-equality stuff that I have been promoting so proudly. I realized by viewing Beautiful Agony that perhaps I am not as untouched by our cultural norms as I thought.

Lastly, I realized I am not as liberated as I thought. I can sit here and write all the sexy stories I want, or participate in all things naughty in the privacy of my home (or a few choice public places), but as I thought about this site, and how amazing it is that all of these people are willing to share themselves so openly with the world, I wondered how liberated can I truly be if I am unwilling to do the same? I mean, its one thing to just not be into exhibitionism, but I can definitely be a bit of a show-off. . .I have no problem with perfect strangers seeing me in the throes of pleaure and agony, but more of a problem with people who are not strangers stumbling across my video. Yet, I think that's part of what makes BeautifulAgony so exciting. How can someone judge you when they're there to witness someone else giving the same thing you're giving?

I love song-writers who bare their souls for their audience without fear or thought of how raw their words are, a la Ani Difranco. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason our culture is so enamoured with Reality TV is not because we like watching people make fools of themselves, but because we like watching people, period. For me, Beautiful Agony is like someone holding out the most intimate, gut-wrenchingly confidential journal entry they possess, and asking you to read it. I would be careful in watching these videos if you are not comfortable with the idea that you too, might be tempted to strip yourself bare and let everyone see.

Maybe it is needless to say after this glowing report, but I am now in the market for a new video camera and someone willing to participate in the act of me showing my agony to the world. . .

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Constructive or not-so-constructive criticism? Leave a comment. Don't be shy.

Fable J. Hill, 2008. © All rights reserved without written permission.

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