Inside The Surprisingly Liberating World Of Reddit Porn

Every morning, a woman who goes by the name Mrs_Gault on Reddit wakes up in the dark of her Chicago home around 6 a.m.

 Photo credit: Pexels.

Photo credit: Pexels.

She slips out of bed, careful not to disturb her husband, or wake her children who are sleeping in nearby rooms. She walks quietly to her closet, where she takes off her clothes. Some days, she’ll slide on some lingerie — a lacy black thong, perhaps, or a see-through camisole — and others, she’ll sit on the floor, completely nude. She snaps a few photos with her phone: cupping her bare breasts, sliding off that same lingerie, or inserting colorful toys between her legs. And then? She posts them on the internet. 

Once a post goes up, Gault (whose name is a nod to a literary character she won’t reveal) will get her kids ready for school, and then run off to her full time job. By her lunch break, she will have received hundreds of views and more than 100 comments on her photos, which are either taken from the chin down or with her face blacked out. She ignores some, sends flirty smiley faces in response to others; a lucky few launch full-on sext conversations or receive promises for more photos soon. 


“I used to be so much more shy, but now that I’ve anonymously opened myself up on the internet, in real life I’m much more in touch with who I am,” she says. “I’m more secure with myself, which means I'm willing to let other people in on who I am, too.”


Gault is a member of the growing NSFW community on Reddit, the news aggregation and message board site founded in 2005. The self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” has since become known as a black hole of discussion boards, also known as “subreddits,” where users endlessly discuss everything from Donald Trump (on “The_Donald”) to ShowerThoughts

But of the tens of thousands of active Reddit subs (as of press time, there were more than 45,000), the 57th most popular — with 1,009,487 subscribers and counting — is GoneWild, home to users like Gault who post nude photos, videos, porn GIFs, erotica, and more (all of which are allowed within Reddit’s content policy as long as they include the “NSFW” tag). This small corner of the internet is where people go to anonymously share images and videos of themselves in a variety of sexual situations, then respond and converse with commenters. While it's an equal-opportunity situation, the porn posters are overwhelmingly women.

The result is an interactive porn experience where the women are in charge, reminding the world that a porn star doesn’t have to be an exaggerated, overly orgasmic caricature of a sexual being with a Barbie-like figure. They represent myriad body types, races, and sexual identities, and an expression of sexuality that's for their own enjoyment as much as anyone else's. Of course, this isn’t a new concept; popular performers like Stoya and April Flores have already brought this ethos into the mainstream porn industry in recent years, and camgirls have been at the forefront of self-documented porn by women since 2001. 


“Indie porn sites have been challenging the notion of who gets to be in porn for years,” says Lux Alptraum, sex educator and former editor in chief of Fleshbot. “Non-traditional porn performers have existed for a very long time. The only thing that doesn’t change is our belief as a society that women who don’t fall into that old ‘porn-y’ blonde stereotype are somehow novel or different.” 
 

She adds: “Is the mainstream porn industry male led? Yes. But so is the mainstream film industry. It doesn’t mean that there haven’t been women of all gender and sexual identities, shapes, sizes, and races, challenging the norms for a very long time.”

But in addition to running counter to the (false) assumption that all online porn is degrading to women, what makes Reddit’s NSFW community unique versus those longstanding indie sites is that it has transformed a mainstream website intended for people to exchange ideas into a safe, protected platform for women to express their sexuality and fulfill sexual urges while simultaneously exploring and finding confidence in their bodies. Just by posting photos or videos of their naked bodies, the women of GoneWild are both asserting their sexuality and continuing to expand the cultural acceptance and democratization of porn. 

Beyond Reddit, women are the primary authors of erotica blogs like DarkGracie.com and Literotica.com, and many of the 12% of Tumblr blogs that feature NSFW content are curated by women. There’s a growing number of porn stars on Snapchat, where users like OneDaisyMarie and RebelleFleurXX snap sexy stories daily (and are able to easily monetize their content). And then there's MakeLoveNotPorn, a crowd-sourced site that features real people having sex while seeking to shed labels like “amateur” and even "porn," period — since porn implies it's a performance. 

But while posters from the above sites can direct message their Snapchat viewers or log on to Twitter to interact with fans, Reddit’s discussion board format lets all that happen centrally and immediately in one place, creating an instant, intimate community. These are women who are filming themselves in their own homes, sometimes with clothing or children’s toys or their own toys in the background; they are quite literally inviting other Reddit users into both their homes and themselves, and allowing them to openly discuss what they see.

It might sound like a breeding ground for trolls and cyberbullies, but of the two dozen GoneWild porn stars who provided feedback for this story (including a law firm call-center clerk, a recovering drug addict, a few full-time students, and more than a few moms, ranging from ages 22 to 41 and all a variety of races), every single one said that the majority of the comments she receives are positive.


“People who are logging on to Reddit prefer imperfect, amateur porn,” says Gault, who first began posting after a male friend mentioned Reddit’s NSFW threads and she decided she wanted to share the nude photos she’d already been taking for herself. “They’re not looking for dolled up, photoshopped porn stars with huge breasts and tiny waists. There’s something for everyone on Reddit, but a lot of my commenters, male and female, say they appreciate that I have imperfections, or that I poke fun at my small butt.” 


So while women across many platforms, from Snapchat to Tumblr, are proving that any woman can be a porn star, the comments from the primarily straight male viewership on GoneWild tell the world that the non-stereotypical porn star is actually becoming a preference, not just some porn anomaly. If a reader were to take a look at a few dozen GoneWild subreddits — from GoneWildColor, which is specifically for women of color, to GoneWild30Plus, which features women over the age of 30 — they’d see that the majority of the remarks (that were printable for this article; you’ll have to use your imagination for some of the more explicit commentary) are mostly along the lines of “Gorgeous babygirl,” and “you are perfect in every way,” or simply romantic suggestions of imaginary dates or detailed (read: very detailed) fantastical sexploits.

This tendency for male Reddit users to skew toward more realistic women is in line with the mainstream porn industry’s recent lean toward porn featuring non-cookie-cutter women, too: In the last few years, PornHub has reported spikes in search terms like virtual reality, giantess, BBW, big booty Latina, and, simply, lesbian. And the nominees at the AVN Awards (the porn industry’s Oscars) have become increasingly diverse in both body type and race over the years. (That said, it's important to recognize that racism in the world of casting in the mainstream porn industry is still pervasive.)

Gault, who typically photographs herself in her closet in a variety of poses (“Cake Day” meant her robin’s egg blue thong was accompanied by breasts covered in vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles), adds that since she joined Reddit, she’s become more confident in and proud of her body. “Any insecurities about my body have disappeared completely. And it’s a really cool thing, because you get to be all these things you aren’t in your real life: photographer, model, and exhibitionist.” 

She adds that this power is particularly important in our current political climate. 

 

Read the full Refinery29 article.

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