Sex + Dating

Untangling Tumblr's Appeal as a Porn Mecca... for Women

Nina Gonzales collage of Tumblr men for Thrillist
Nina Gonzales/Thrillist

When I stumbled across my first sexy Tumblr page a few years ago, I kind of considered it some beautiful freak accident; like this one sexy page slipped through the censorship cracks. I quickly followed the page and began to look at its reposts. Then I found sexier and sexier pages, everything from "nakedcouples" to "porn4ladies" to "dicksforgirls." It was like I had tapped into this gorgeous, underground world of porn made just for me: all the sexy stuff I liked, with none of the gross cumshots at the end.

I'd found my porn mecca.

For a while, I thought I was the only one who knew about the sexy porn magic on Tumblr. Then, while brunching on fancy French toast and tofu scrambles at my friend Jess' place, she told me that her Tumblr dashboard was solely dedicated to porn. Not only that, she and her boyfriend had started to bring their cellphones into bed and use their favorite Tumblr pages as foreplay.
 

Why Tumblr porn?

The sexy porn on Tumblr does it for a lot of different women for a lot of different reasons. As we've been told over and over again, female sexuality is "complicated." But the one thing that seems pretty damn clear from the ladies of Tumblr is that what is sexy is what is real.

Whatever you are into seeing -- from bearded, inked, shirtless men to bit-squirting clits -- there is a welcoming place for women on Tumblr. Here, they enjoy not the pre-fabricated version of sexy that they see every day in the media, but their own authentic, sexy joy. The non-judgmental space of Tumblr allows women to explore their sexuality without the pressure of what that should (or shouldn't) be.

While I'm a fairly vanilla-flavored girl, Jess' porn tastes are constantly expanding from foot fetish to squirting to big clits. She loves that she can plug keywords into Tumblr and immediately get what she is looking for without having to sort through a bunch of junk. Although the content Jess and I sought was very different, the feeling we were looking for was the same. We wanted something authentic. Jess put it best: "I want the shit somebody made in the bathroom during their lunch hour. It feels more charged, more raw."

Women want something without the fake moans, touched-up bodies, and clichéd staged interactions. And to prove it, I reached out to some active, sexy picture-posting Tumblr users to see what they were getting from this refreshing side of Tumblr.

Tumblr homepage
<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-2438372p1.html?cr=00&amp;pl=edit-00">M-SUR</a> / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/editorial?cr=00&amp;pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>

The grittiness -- and freedom -- of amateur porn is hot

One user with the super-cool Tumblr name Dewy Places said that while she enjoys professional porn like Four Chambers, she really likes finding amateur couples on Tumblr who post together because it turns them on.

"It's sexy and exciting to witness," she said, "but also very much opposed to much mainstream porn, in the sense that they're equal and they care about each other and each other's pleasure! There's an ethical level to it that I really like, and I think a lot of other women do too."

Elle, who started the Tumblr blog Feminine Sexuality, said Tumblr just looks at female sexuality in a way that appeals to her more than mainstream porn.

"I honestly started the blog because I have always had conflicting feelings about porn," Elle said. "The idea of erotic entertainment just in and of itself seemed like something I would enjoy and support, and I had no issues with it morally -- but I was very turned off by mainstream pornography. Tumblr is unique in that it is particularly socially aware and the female and queer community is much more active there compared to other social media. It was great being able to see sexual material spread through a lens that I could identify with much more easily than a standard porn-tube site, or even a membership site like Brazzers."
 

Of course, having an empowering context doesn't hurt 

Although everyone I spoke with agrees the content on Tumblr is hot, there's also the empowering, sexy context that goes with that content. Women like knowing they are viewing bodies that want to be viewed; and that when they post their work, their bodies are being viewed in an empowering way as well.

"I had started taking nudes of myself," Dewy said. "Some I sent to my boyfriend, but the more photos I snapped, the more I realized I was doing it for myself. It started out as something quite narcissistic and then turned into a more curious exploration of my body and sexuality. That's the interesting thing about Tumblr: the communal feeling. You meet like-minded people -- in this case, people who are feminist, liberal, sexual, body positive..."

Joanne, a regular Tumblr user who posts anonymously, said she feels like she's part of a body-positive community very different from mainstream porn.

"I find it liberating in a sense [to post nudes]," Joanne said. "Tumblr doesn't shame/ban nudity and I find the community is primarily very accepting. You can also potentially have an impact on body positivity of others; possibly increasing the self-esteem of someone who has similar features to you that they are insecure about -- which makes me happy."

Girl on laptop screen home video
ronstik/Shutterstock

The "models" are real women, not caricatures

Indeed the porn on Tumblr represents a gorgeous collage of women and couples in a creative number of situations and positions. Women can often see themselves reflected in the realness of the models. It is a change not just to get off, but also to feel sexiness reflected back at you.

Although many women love Tumblr as a prelude to sexy time, Elle from Feminine Sexuality also suggests that for her there is something more about looking through self-posted images.

"I generally use erotic photography I find through Tumblr as a means of figuring out things I like conceptually," Elle said, "or just as a spark of inspiration to utilize in real life. It's more about the general feeling the images bring about and the erotic energy that it creates than finding specific material to masturbate directly to. Generally, messages I get [from fans] are thanking me for displaying material that depicts all different human bodies in sexual ways. It allows them to see themselves in a sexualized light and gives confidence they can bring into their own sex lives."
 
We live in a world where women are constantly judged and objectified: where being sexy for someone else is the ultimate goal. Tumblr can allow women to regain some of their sexual power and agency. By deciding when and where and how they post their nudes, women can be the creators of their own sexual image. They get to decide what their sexy is.

Women knowing that the porn stars they're watching want to actually get it on, and are enjoying the heck out of getting it on, can be one of the sexiest aspects of porn. It's not just about consent. It is about agency and power. It is the supreme kind of sexy to know you are getting off with someone else instead of despite someone else; that your arousal is shared. There is nothing better than porn that both gets you hot without degrading someone else. Porn on Tumblr is the equivalent of Fair Trade coffee or dolphin-friendly tuna. It is a place where women can go to get turned on without the guilt.
 
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Niki Fritz is a writer of feministy and occasionally funny words, a drinker of coffee and whiskey, and a studier of pornography. Legitimately! She's a grad student in the Media School at Indiana University. Follow her on Twitter: @feministyfritz.