Elevate Difference

SexIs: Sex and All Things Sexual

There are an abundance of websites about sex, gender, and pleasure that range from academic, theoretical discussions to medical descriptions to sexual how-to guides, and I was admittedly skeptical of SexIs, a sex-positive community devoted to “sex and all things sexual” started by online sex toy company Eden Fantasies.

Updated weekly by a diverse collection of writers (including Feminist Review founder Mandy Van Deven), SexIs features a variety of articles about aging, disabilities, kink, fetishes, politics, anatomy, "green" sex toys, contraceptives, and body image for just about everyone—including lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, straight people, transgendered folks, and those who choose not to self-identify sexually. As a Brown University undergraduate student, I was particularly interested in the excerpt from Confessions of an Ivy League Pornographer about Sam Benjamin, a ’99 alumnus who used his education to become what he describes as a “filthy but good-hearted pornographer.” In his biography, Benjamin explains his attempt to make sex positive films; however, in practice, this led to no lucrative end. In other articles, Benjamin reviews sex and women-positive projects, such as the film Rough Sex by Tristan Taormino, the only self-declared mainstream feminist pornographer.

SexIs is just one of many virtual community spaces Eden Fantasies has developed; they also have a section with interviews, a blog, and interactive forums. The content of the site reminds me of a gender-neutral discussion group I participate in called FemSex that facilitates learning and provides a safe-space that encourages individuals to gain knowledge, make self-aware decisions, explore available options, and validate their own experiences. While the SexIs' attempt to be an all-inclusive portal may seem too overwhelming or superficial to some, in the end, it creates an open space to delve into the full fluid spectrum of human sexuality. Although I question their consumerist intentions, the site is a positive space for people to learn, debate, and share ideas and experiences about pleasure.

Written by: Abigail Chance, December 3rd 2009

Full disclosure: I both write for SexIs and am an editor at Feminist Review.

There are differences between having a publication for commercial purposes, writing/blogging for money, and writing/blogging for a non-monetary reason. Certainly there are blogs and other online publications that exist for all three of these purposes. One excellent example of the latter is a blog called Flip Flopping Joy. The women who blog there aren't blogging for money. They're blogging to build community, critique global oppression, and give the world words of beauty. I think blogs like this are the vast majority--not blogs with money-making intentions. Neither are inherently good or bad.

I can understand (and encourage) the skepticism of someone who comes across SexIs. The publication is inextricably linked to Eden Fantasies and one shouldn't dismiss the possibility that the publication exists to promote the online store. It would be naive not to consider this possibility.

That said, what Champagne and Benzedrine says about a publication needing to have an income in order to financially sustain itself and its writers is very true, and my experience with Feminist Review has been one of trying to figure out how to balance income generation in order to pay writers (which we aren't yet able to do) with my desire to avoid consumerist over-saturation. It's a struggle that continues.

This comment sounds like the person works for SexIs.

My only beef with them is that they have spammed all of the links on the FR web site, which was really irritating.

I think this is a great assessment of a brilliant new online magazine - although I do question you when you write 'Although I question their consumerist intentions.'

For a start, as far as I'm aware SexIs is merely subsidized by Eden Fantasies, not a marketing tool for them (it stands on it's own editorial merits.)

Secondly, when was the last time you saw any polished online magazine - sex related or not - that didn't have 'consumerist intentions.'

When did you see a blog, for that matter, that didn't have 'consumerist intentions' too?

I know I have affiliate links on my blog to 'pay the bills.' almost EVERY sex magazine, blogger or forum does the same.

It's really dodgy to sneer at anything that attempts to use opinion and editorial to make money. How else are they going to hold events? Host competitions? Pay their writers? Have a modern, efficient interface?

Since when was blogging only 'worthwhile' if it was done on a pro-bono basis? That's a very, very naive attitude to have.

Does this mean CNN, CNBC, Time Out New York and every other media outlook is somehow worthless too? Fox News is, I'll give you - but the others?

For a start, SexIs is different because (as far as I understand) they have the freedom to exist without subsisting on the money the magazine makes for itself. The fact that they're subsidized gives them greater scope to write what's significant and important, not just what will get hits, drive traffic and earn clicks.

Secondly, there's nothing wrong with wanting to earn money - especially not when good stuff comes of it. Didn't you see that Eden Fantasys were donating significant amounts during AIDs week?

What makes them more 'credible' in your eyes? Having the power to donate thousands of dollars for charity? Or not existing on a commercial basis at all?

I know what benefits AIDs Service Center of New York City more, since they're the ones reaping the benefits.

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