Fuck each other, not the planet

Fuck each other, not the planet

Thoughts on porn, sexecology, sustainability, and capitalism

By Jasmin Hagendorfer

Sex is one of the most intimate and political issues of human existence. We are sexual, technological, narrative, and political beings. We have our preferences and kinks, and we do everything to make them come true or to consume them passively. Social context influences how, when, and in what way we do so. We should openly ask whether good sex or porn can save the world. Sure, say activists of the sexecology movement. Their motto is: Mother Earth should be our lover! And that’s a different perspective on the subject than clichéd tree huggers and smiled-upon activists. Another activist group, for example, is aptly called Fuck For Forest. Let’s dive deeper together into various projects and lifestyles of sustainable sexuality.

Sexecology—No Ordinary Love

What exactly is ecosexuality or sexecology? It’s a trending sexual identity that describes everything from having sex, literally, with the Earth to getting it on in the most ecofriendly way possible. Founders of this movement are Annie Sprinkle (shoutout to the mother of post-porn!) and Beth Stephens. Their artistic work reflects different currents within radical feminist art. Stephens (born 1960) has been active in the field of video and media art since the late 1980s, displaying primarily lesbian and queer culture. Sprinkle (born 1954) has been a porn actress and activist since the 1970s, undermining patriarchal representation of women* in pornography. She’s also committed to the rights of sex workers.

For Stephens and Sprinkle, sexecology means they’re married to Earth, sky, sea, soil, and a multitude of natural beings. The two also have sex with these forces of nature and engage in a sexual exchange. In many performances and various films, such as Water Makes Us Wet—An Ecosexual Adventure, this is paid tribute to sexecology. This movement emphasizes the feminist approach. Ecosexuality shifts the metaphor from Earth as woman or mother to Earth as lover. This shift creates a mutual and more sensitive relationship to the natural world. The movement is reminiscent of the Gaia paradigm, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, which suggests that living organisms interact with their inorganic environment on Earth to form a synergistic, self-regulating complex system that helps maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.

For those who find all this too submerged in New Age thought, don’t worry. Many other forms of sustainable sex activism exist.

ANNIE SPRINKLE & BETH STEPHENS – WEDDING TO THE EARTH. SEXOLOGY.ORG
ANNIE SPRINKLE & BETH STEPHENS – WEDDING TO THE EARTH. SEXOLOGY.ORG

Fuck For Forest—Love is an Earthly Battlefield

Another project often mentioned amid talk of sustainable pornography and sexual environmental activism is Fuck For Forest. More than 15 years ago, Norwegians Leona Johansson and Tommy Hol Ellingsen started their website based on the concept of using porn to raise money for ecological projects to protect the rainforest. Activists give pornographic material to the project free of charge. These donors also have the right to delete their donations at any time. Nobody cedes the rights to the material. In return, they receive free access to the site. Consumers must purchase a membership. A small percentage of the income goes to running costs, while the rest goes to ecological work.

Fuck For Forest uses a vocabulary like that of ecofeminism. With that language comes an overlap in the equation of women and nature. Patriarchal capitalism does the same. This view of women as nature, as bodies, and as mothers often serves as justification for exploitation. So, sex sells better for a cause? That philosophy meets with criticism. Accusations range from people being pushed to this activism or that drugs were involved, and so the project also has enemies. Another debatable aspect is the romantic view of nature, endowed with almost spiritual traits, which differs from the beginnings of the eco-movement post-1968. [1] Still, it’s worthwhile to discuss whether and how pornography can be used to fund environmental protection. It’s also worthwhile to talk about whether the connection between sexual liberation and ecology can enter into a meaningful symbiosis.

Capitalism—You Sexy Thing

We’re all human. Sexuality shapes our lives. We all suffer from climate change, the earth in crisis. In principle, these facts unite us all. All the actions we take have an impact on our environment, and consumption is our daily bread. Think about how consumer culture has shaped aspects of our sex life. It starts with contraceptives, continues with sex toys, and ends with the consumption of pornography. It’s impossible to talk about all of us as sexual beings without talking about capitalism. Pornography, this wondrous form of consumer art, reminds us that we’re stuck in this power structure.

Let’s look deeper into the environmental costs of internet pornography. Most people think that the carbon footprint of online porn is much smaller than it was in the days of DVDs and magazines. In principle, dematerialization is a very effective approach. Theoretically, the reduction of energy put into production should lead to a reduction of CO2 emissions. Well, porn is one possible and major exception. Since the turn of the century, the mainstream porn industry has experienced two intense increases in popularity. In the early 2000s, broadband enabled higher download speeds. In 2008, the advent of so-called porn-tube sites allowed users to view clips for free. This combination resulted in a veritable porn explosion.

In 2015, journalist Matt Kessler published an article in The Atlantic on this topic. Along with various interview partners, including Nathan Ensmenger, a professor at the University of Indiana, Kessler estimated Pornhub’s yearly power consumption. They based the estimate on data Pornhub published. If Pornhub streams videos as efficiently as Netflix (0.0013 kWh per streaming hour), the company uses 5.967 million kWh per year. That’s roughly the amount of energy 11,000 light bulbs would use if left on for a year. And that’s a best-case scenario. [2] As Kessler's article suggests, too many variables exist to be sure whether online porn has a worse ecological impact than it did in predigital days. But ease of availability has driven demand to incredible levels, and that might mean our porn habits are worse for the environment than they were before.

ANNIE SPRINKLE & BETH STEPHENS – „WE ARE THE ECOSEXUALS.” SEXOLOGY.ORG
ANNIE SPRINKLE & BETH STEPHENS – „WE ARE THE ECOSEXUALS.” SEXOLOGY.ORG

MindGeek—I’ve Got the Power

It might look like many companies offer porn online, but that isn’t true. Let’s take Pornhub as an example. It belongs to a vast porn empire quietly run by the Canadian company MindGeek. In 2013, the adult industry news website XBIZ described MindGeek as “the largest adult entertainment operator globally.” In 2013, a spokesperson from Manwin (as MindGeek was formerly known) told Irish Independent, that they are “one of the top five bandwidth consumption companies in the world.” TheBestPorn.com reports that MindGeek owns or represents 164 pornographic membership sites. MindGeek’s dominance in online pornography might have negative results because of the monopolistic powers they have from owning and operating production and distribution companies. Not to speak of the ecological footprint of their bandwidth consumption and server farms.

In 2014, MindGeek announced Pornhub Gives America Wood, a promise to plant one tree for every 100 videos viewed in its “Big Dick” category. Pornhub’s campaign spread across blogs and sites such as Reddit. The tree campaign has reached a lot of Pornhub’s core client base. But corporate “social responsibility” is an unabashed marketing tactic. That ploy can’t cover up the industry’s exploitative practices.

Welcum to the Green Team!

About 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. That hurts sea life and us. Over the years, many projects have attempted to combat the issue. In 2017, MTV Brazil made a move on this front. The network created dildos from recaptured ocean plastic to raise awareness. The plan gave a sexy twist to the problem. But the dildos were limited-editions, and the program was a short-term stunt rather than a longer-term solution.

Many new brands are more dedicated to the subject of sex in an organic, sustainable, and clean way, creating a shameless atmosphere to talk about all these products, bodily functions, and pleasure. These include eco-friendly hygiene manufacturers such as Sustain and the German brand Einhorn. Both produce menstrual cups, hygiene products, and condoms. Especially for condoms and lubricants, more sustainability is in demand. And so, more green brands are appearing, such as Glyde, Sir Richards, good clean love, and Sliquid. The first solar-powered vibrators are also on the market.

Can Good Sex and Porn Save the World?

Sex is a powerful tool for motivating people to make the environment a priority. It can cause more people to think about their consumption. That thinking applies to tangible products that come into contact with the body. With pornography, we need a different perspective. It’s important to ask yourself what and where you consume, and to inform yourself accordingly. Take the time to discover your desire and to reflect.

You can find what you’re looking for, whatever arouses you, in an ethical way. I recommend a switch to alternative porn sites. You might seek out and watch feminist and ethically fabricated porn, too. There’s a lot of it out there. As an organizer of Porn Film Festival Vienna, I know that.

Maybe good sex and good porn can save the planet only to a limited extent. But considering the issues can give you a new worldview. Take a little time to think about your sex life in this way.  And may the fuck be with you!

Jasmin Hagendorfer is a Vienna-based artist, creative, writer, and curator. She has initiated and managed comprehensive projects in the art and culture scene. Her main artistic interest is installation, sculpture, and performance, and her work has been exhibited in many countries. As an artist, Jasmin is concerned with sociopolitical discourses and questions about gender identity with an emphasis on post-porn politics. She cofounded ArtUnAnchored, an art festival that took place on a ship moving between Vienna and Bratislava. Jasmin is also Creative Director of two Viennese film festivals, including the Porn Film Festival Vienna and Transition International Queer & Minorities Film Festival. Her work focuses on each festival’s creative concept, the creation of artistic highlights, and maintaining an artistic balance in festival programming. Jasmin holds numerous workshops and lectures on the topic of feminist pornography and queer art.

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