I remember when I was a young woman, walking into adult shops and demanding to see male nudey mags that had been produced for women. the dudes behind the counter told me ‘well you can buy the gay stuff if you like.’ and I said ‘no, I want to see pictures that are produced for my gaze - I shouldn’t have to appropriate a male gaze. give me men posing for my pleasure.’ and the dudes kindly told me ‘women don’t like looking at pictures - they read romance novels instead’. and I said ‘well I want to look’. but it occurs to me I post very few male nudes on my blog, and it’s because a) most of them are produced for gay male markets, and b) I also know that a lot of my male followers have indicated that they feel threatened when they see a nude man on their dash who is posing alone, as though it’ll make them gay or something. But we women look at women all the time. we have grown up surrounded by images of women and internalised the doctrine: the man looks, the woman is to be looked at. and as women we internalise our own ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’ through this system of gendered gazes. no matter how successful we become in our careers, our visual appearance is still key to our identity. so the male gaze seems as natural as breathing, but it is learnt. what does a female gaze look like? how do male nudes produced for a female gaze differ from gay nudes? there are such images on tumblr - images that were not around when I was in my early 20s. so things are changing, but I’m not sure that there is a diversity that I would like.
So I’m going to explore this female gaze more on my blog, from now on. I’m going to own my female gaze and stop disavowing it so much. I realise I will lose some of my straight male followers but lemme say this: if you see a male body on your dash from me, guys, remember you are following a woman with desires, and looking at a naked man is not a threat to your sexual identity. I request that rather than your usual kneejerk reaction assuming he is posing for YOU, perhaps try to see him through my eyes in the way women have learnt to look at other women through yours. you might learn to appreciate ways in which your own body is sexy.
Yeah the activity graph is about likes and reblogs I’m pretty sure, no follow/unfollow
no, there are three different graphs (once you click through) for notes (i.e., likes and reblogs), new followers and follower count, each with datum points you can hover over with your cursor and a scale that adjusts to the relevant range. what I’m saying is that the last doesn’t appear to register any decreases.
So I lost a couple of followers yesterday - apparently for posting about music, which this blog was originally supposed to be about, but w/e - yet the ‘Activity’ graph appears to have edited that past, where I had more followers than I do now, out of existence. The slope only goes one way.
At least, I’m pretty certain I remember the higher number. Starting to doubt myself now. Anyone else noticed this happening?
Via Erosblog, I found this blog (NSFW) of a self-described “feminist” and “capitalist” female pornographer. On Tumblr reinstating the robots.txt rules for Adult blogs (but not as yet fully admitting to their classification as such), she has this to say:
"The Tumblr adventure is just another episode in the ongoing clash between porn and the increasingly corporatized internet. In just the last month I’ve had issues with Blogger, Vimeo and with Google Plus (an ongoing drama that I’ll blog about soon), all of them determined to expunge adult content from their services. Unfortunately the internet’s public and social spaces are all owned by private companies that want nothing to do with porn and it means that adult content is being forced into a ghetto, starved of traffic and discriminated against. As someone who believes in freedom of speech and who is trying her hardest to make a better kind of porn, it’s an ongoing source of frustration. At least this latest move by Tumblr is a small sign of hope."
As I tried to suggest previously, this crackdown is part of a wider and more fundamental issue. Within Tumblr though, there’s a further very important criticism of its own porn-sharing network to be made:
"… consider this: the images I’m posting [on Tumblr] are licensed to me, chosen by me and authorized to be shared in what I consider to be a promotional manner. I also have the 2257 documents for those images.
Compare this with the millions of Tumblr porn blogs that post unlicensed, unauthorized, un2257′d images without so much as a link to where they came from. It doesn’t matter that their terms state you can’t post copyrighted content; Tumblr is built on stolen, unreferenced porn. People don’t hesitate to copy and share an image they like and to build giant blogs and traffic bases from that. If I may get a little Grandma Scrotum about this, in my day you didn’t do that. If you wanted to make a porn site you absolutely had to buy a licence for that content. At least, that was the case until the porn tube sites came along and obliterated the rest of the business with rampant piracy.
(By the way, you’ll note in Tumblr’s terms that they forbid you from uploading sexually explicit video because “hosting this stuff is fucking expensive” and they recommend you use xHamster instead. No mention of making sure the video is yours to begin with.)”
This is an issue I deliberately didn’t address in my original post on Tumblr porn, partly because I wanted to focus on the community aspect but also because it’s not a problem specific to Tumblr nor, indeed, is it specific to porn on Tumblr. The site is built on uncopyrighted content in a lot of ways, even without the porn blogs. In a lot of ways I think the situation is similar to that of music: it’s really incredibly easy to get a hold of for free, and I’m not sure why anyone of my generation would pay for it (or rather, I know that most don’t). Yet if we want to respect pornography both as culturally significant and as a form of sex work, it’s problematic to add to its argued inherent exploitativeness the exploitation of its labour as free, stolen content.
Of course, I know why I pay for music - a mixture of the moral and prudential argument that artists ought to be recompensed, and the value I find in vinyl records as physical objects or, lately, the convenience of Spotify (even if its actual worth to the artists is debatable). Porn doesn’t really have the latter option, and although I think the former probably ought to apply, at least to professional content, it is weakened by porn’s social status and even stigma. The image of someone who pays for porn is instinctively one of an obsessive, one who can’t get enough kick out of the freely available tidbits or pirated copies and needs the genuine completeness. Yet that is basically describing the serious music fan.
Part of it also comes from the extent to which sites already appear to operate on a mixture of promotional and ‘freemium’ models, with most using ‘free hosted galleries’ (/fhg) to display selected images at relatively low resolution (why porn superfans are so attracted by super high resolutions I’m not quite clear, since imagination generally does a better job in the first place; but I suppose it’s the medium’s equivalent of high fidelity). From what I’ve seen - generally of classier producers like X-Art, Joymii, Met-Art - the subscriptions per site appear pretty steep; but then again, it’s perhaps not far off what many music fans might spend monthly on vinyl or downloads. There are also more flexible options emerging for smaller producers, like the self-explanatory ‘Clips4sale’; but nothing that I see that would revolutionise the market like streaming has for music.
As I say, I’m chiefly referring to professionally produced content here. I am attracted to a notion that for certain amateur or self-shot content, such as features often on Tumblr, the ideal is for it to remain unpaid, unsullied by commercial exploitation. An illusory purity, perhaps (and ‘amateur’ content is widely exploited, both commercially and morally without consent). But while I believe the body, even in its pornographic representation, can be a free tool of self-expression, I still recognise that when someone puts in effort into something they have the right to ask for money for it - and, as always, fair control over their creative property. Again, a similar argument applies to the artistry of independent music, where expression and creativity vie with sustainability and due recompense.
Clearly there are a lot of things wrong with porn, before you even get down to questioning its content. Like music, it’s not that no-one makes money off it any more, it’s that generally it’s what most regard as the wrong people who do. Yet unlike music, there’s not a whole lot of political or social capital in campaigning for the business to be reformed to respect copyright, rather than puritanical mores (even if that is perhaps just swapping one bourgeois morality for another). Squeezed between search providers, social media corporations and advertisers who have all chosen to be prudish for business and legal reasons, and a consuming public who feel little pressure to actually pay for the content they furtively use, porn is increasingly pushed into a ghetto where ethics are expensive (or rather, unprofitable). In another post, on 'Porn for Women' (interesting for this and other topics), the feminist, capitalist pornographer sums up her frustration at this social hypocrisy:
“Why, in 2013, is sex still such a huge problem for people? Why does every corporation out there assume that I’m evil or criminal or not to be trusted because I want to make porn? How am I supposed to change porn from within and make it more ethical, more feminist, more positive when I’m blocked at every turn?
And meanwhile, there’s the alternative universe of porn-friendly sites that echo the main ones: Offbeatr (Kickstarter). Paxum (Paypal). Pornterist. Fuckbook.
Except that I don’t want to be shunted off to the porn ghetto. I don’t want the internet to have this sex-based apartheid. What I want is to share my erotic films and writing with people who don’t normally frequent porn sites. I want to get the word out to everyone about feminist and ethical porn. And I want my porn to be found by everyone when they are legitimately looking for it. Right now, Google isn’t letting them do that and, quite frankly, it sucks.”
All, we’ve heard from a bunch of you who are concerned about Tumblr censoring NSFW/adult content. While there seems to be a lot of misinformation flying around, most of the confusion seems to stem from our complicated flagging/filtering features. Let me clear up (and fix) a few things:
1. Last year, we added “Safe Mode” which lets you filter out NSFW content from tag and search pages. This is enabled by default for new users and can be toggled in your Dashboard Settings. As some of you have pointed out, disabling Safe Mode still wasn’t allowing search results from all blogs to appear. This has been fixed.
2. Some search terms are blocked (returning no results) in some of our mobile apps. Unfortunately, different app environments have different requirements that we do our best to adhere to. The reason you see innocent tags like #gay being blocked on certain platforms is that they are still frequently returning adult content which our entire app was close to being banned for. The solution is more intelligent filtering which our team is working diligently on. We’ll get there soon. In the meantime, you can browse #lgbtq — which is moderated by our community editors — in all of Tumblr’s mobile apps. You can also see unfiltered search results on tumblr.com using your mobile web browser.
3. Earlier this year, in an effort to discourage some not-so-nice people from using Tumblr as free hosting for spammy commercial porn sites, we started delisting this tiny subset of blogs from search engines like Google. This was never intended to be an opt-in flag, but for some reason could be enabled after checking off
NSFW → Adultin your blog settings. This was confusing and unnecessary, so we’ve dropped the extra option. If your blog contains anything too sexy for the average workplace, simply check “Flag this blog as NSFW" so people in Safe Mode can avoid it. Your blog will still be promoted in third-party search engines.
Aside from these fixes, there haven’t been any recent changes to Tumblr’s treatment of NSFW content, and our view on the topic hasn’t changed. Empowering your creative expression is the most important thing in the world to us. Making sure people aren’t surprised by content they find offensive is also incredibly important and we are always working to put more control in your hands.
Sorry for all of the confusion. If you have any more concerns or suggestions on how we can make these features clearer or more useful, please email us!
Hmm… the first does not, as yet, appear to be true. It also glosses over the distinction between NSFW and Adult (the latter which were more completely excluded from internal search). Now the ‘Adult’ option - which was neither opt-in nor opt-out, just a greyed-out selection - has been disappeared, replaced by a checkable NSFW box, but I haven’t yet seen any other effect of that. And the “tiny subset” of “spammy commercial porn sites” is not an accurate description of blogs flagged as Adult, since many such patently remain unflagged while blogs that do come up with the robots.txt include the exact opposite in tasteful/non-commercial porn terms - Google search Dirty Berd or Nympho Ninjas if you want to see what I mean (still NSFW, obviously). The spam sites were surely eligible for deletion or suspension under the Terms of Service, which would be a more effective solution than search engine delisting.