reflections


In a not very recent post, I grumbled about supposedly-sexy photos of people mistreating musical instruments. The ones where neither the model nor the photographer seems to have encountered the instrument before or to be aware of the most basic requirements for keeping it from harm. The ones where the instrument is very obviously a visual prop and in no way a thing for making music with. The ones where it’s considered OK to lie with all your weight on top of a double bass, for example. (I really have seen this! Hopefully it wasn’t in playable condition.)

So I was delighted today to come across this photo of @Lululushmodel on Twitter. The caption was “I also can play the guitar.”

naked woman seated with guitar, in playing position

Lulu Lush. Used with permission.

What do I like about this photo?

I suppose I have to begin with the obvious: that the sight of Lulu naked is very sexy anyway, and it’s hard to take my eyes off those thighs, and the hint of her breasts, and all that lovely bare skin. And I’ve always liked dark hair. And I very much like the way that the colour of her skin and the colour of the wood of the guitar go with each other. They look as though they belong together. Not just the colours, but Lulu and the guitar.

Maybe that’s it. Belonging together. She looks as though she loves the guitar. The way she’s holding it to herself makes me think of it would feel to be as close to her as the guitar is . . . She looks as though she has sat like this many times and is enjoying a nice relaxing activity. This all creates an intimate feel which makes me want to be in the room too. The intimacy adds to the sexiness.

Maybe my feelings about this photo are influenced by the fact that I’m a musician myself. I know from experience that one does love a familiar instrument almost as though it had a personality. I relate to the moment depicted in the photo.

This is so different from the “Here, hold this and pretend you can play it” photos I was complaining about.

And now I’m wondering whether I ought to do some naked violin practice . . .

Another photo I’m quite pleased with. I hope you’ll enjoy the sight of my hand, and that you’ll think of all the places it might go, on my body or yours. All the ways it might touch and stroke and caress.

When I touch myself like this it feels relaxed and sensuous, and I imagine how it would feel if it were someone else’s hand slipping inside my shirt to enjoy the touch. Skin against skin . . . A slender female hand, and a bare arm which needs to be kissed right the way up to the shoulder . . . And I’m touching you too, my hand inside your clothes, savouring your soft skin as the relaxed sensuousness gradually becomes growing arousal which itself becomes burning need as our now naked bodies entwine to satisfy that need.

. . . Or it may go quite differently: maybe the sensousness becomes a pleasantly sexy haze which we simply enjoy for its own sake for a while. Or it leads to a deep relaxation followed by a contented sleep.

At the moment, I’m enjoying the idea that it would lead to  the two-entwined-bodies-satisfying-their-burning-need option.

Of course, the thoughts the photo gives you may be entirely different from mine . . . Please feel free to share them.

Black and white photo of my hand slipping inside my shirt

Touch me like this. Then touch me some more . . .

Today (on Tumblr) I came across what was clearly intended as an erotic photo. I’m not sure whether it’s an old photo, or a recent one emulating an old one . . . Anyway it features a woman in her underwear, standing next to a harp. Her head is resting on the against the top part of the harp, and her hand on what should be the pillar (I think that’s the correct terminology). One shoulder strap is half way down her upper arm. Her bare thighs and upper chest and neck are highlighted by the pose. The harp has nice curves. So does she.

But several things bother me about the photo—probably not helped by the fact that I’m heavily involved in music:

  • Something is wrong with the column or pillar. To be precise, what’s wrong is that most of it is missing. What we’re seeing is basically part of a dismembered harp.
  • It appears not to have any strings, except for a few of the long ones at the bass end. They are hanging loose, adding to the sense that what we’re looking at is not a musical instrument, but the remains of one.
  • She looks as though she’s never had anything to do with a harp in her life.

Basically I look at the photo and think “Oh my God—what has happened to that instrument?!” For me, this is not an erotic thought.

But the most puzzling thing for me is the choice of pose. I think the photographer intended the way she’s standing, and touching the ex-harp, to be sensuously suggestive and erotic. Because if she were merely playing the harp, she wouldn’t touch it like that. And she’d almost certainly be wearing more clothes. Clearly we’re meant to think that she’s imagining touching something else . . .

The only thing is: the normal playing position for a harp is far sexier than the pose in the photo. So if you’re used to seeing someone play a harp, the photo feels as though she’s carefully trying to avoid the sexiness by just standing there and keeping her distance from it.

Was this intentional—was the photo taken at a time when the photographer felt that the combination of underwear and a normal playing position would be too risqué? Were the photographer and model simply clueless about musical instruments? Or just unconcerned about the possibility of anyone with a music background seeing the photo? Whatever the reason, the result is a photo which at first sight seems as though I ought to find it erotic, but which actually . . . feels like somone standing awkwardly with a piece of wreckage.

So, what do we learn? An unexpected message, maybe:

  • there are actually situations in which reality is sexier than fantasy
  • real music is sexier than fantasy music.

. . . well, perhaps.

If you visit a certain sort of website—the sort of dating site where nude photos are the norm—you’ll discover that a large proportion of the men there think the picture which will be most attractive to the women there is one of their erect penis. The women, however, will mostly tell you that they’ve seen enough penises to last them a lifetime (so to speak!). If asked which part of the body they particularly like, they’ll almost all mention the eyes and hands before anything else.

(And for the record, if you ask me what part of a woman’s body I find sexiest, I’ll probably include her back, neck and nipples in my list. If you insist that I choose.)

I’d never really thought about hands being sexy until one day a close friend told me that she liked my hands. (Actually she put it a lot more positively than that, and I was stunned by the compliment. And because of the way she kept looking at them, I believed her too.)

My hand resting on my bare lower abdomen, just outside partially unzipped jeans

My left hand.
© tnbits.wordpress.com 2010

What is it about hands?

I would have loved to begin this post with a photo I found in a book recently. But I would have been infringing some photographer’s copyright. The picture was amazing: it showed the wall of a cave, painted with various shades of reddish-brown pigment. And all over it were lighter-coloured silhouettes of hands. Negative hand-prints, if you will.

Every hand was different. Some were those of adults. Some of children. Some looked feminine. Some masculine. All were beautiful. And all were from people who lived in about 8,000 BC: ten thousand years ago. Each had its own character. Each was an individual. It was moving to see; one particuarly elegant hand made me want to meet  its owner. These were real people in a real community. I felt a basic human connection with them, even though all I knew was what shape their handprints were. Hands can have personality.

My hand resting on my bare abdomen, filling the picture

Skin against skin.
© tnbits.wordpress.com 2010

Do my hands have personality? That’s not for me to say really, but in these photos I wanted to communicate a gentle sensuousness along with any erotic suggestiveness there might be. If I’m honest—assuming you’re female—I like the thought of you imagining what my hand would feel like against your skin. And I like the thought of the intimacy of that. And how controlled and gentle the touch could be . . .

The photos are of my left hand, simply because I was holding the camera in my right. It’s the hand which I use to play the notes on my violin. I’ve spent years training its fingers to know where to go. Though at the moment, they’re moving around my computer keyboard as I type.

We live a lot of our life with our hands. We use them to hold things. To manipulate  things. To accomplish things. They can push someone away, or hold and comfort them. They can touch, stroke, squeeze, massage, caress. They can stay still, or explore . . .

Fingers sliding into unzipped jeans

And then . . . ?
© tnbits.wordpress.com 2010

Maybe hands do have personality. But I’ll shut up now and let you enjoy (I hope) the photos.

The site

Imagine a dating/contacts/chat site which is set up to allow sexual or erotic interaction along with the usual things. Users’ profiles include details of their sexuality and what kind of interaction they’re looking for: e.g. a straight single man simply looking for online chat, or a lesbian looking for a long-term real-life partner. Users can post pictures and videos of themselves, and most do. Some post simple face shots; some take erotic photos of themselves; some have a more exhibitionist streak and post very explicit material.

What kind of person do you meet if you go there? Mostly, quite ordinary ones. They’ve gone there for a bit of excitement, or to experiment with their exhibitionist side by posting photos they’d never dream of letting their everyday friends see, or out of curiosity. Some have gone there simply because they like looking at naked photos and there are a lot to see. And many go because at some point in the past they made friends there, and they want to chat with them.  Some of these friends may be rather special: for example, ones with whom you feel safe talking about sexual fantasies you would keep private in real life. This can be life-giving and liberating.

So there’s a sexual dimension to much but not all of what happens there. This might be anything from saying to a friend “Oh yes, I always think the back of someone’s neck looks very sexy” to wild cybersex or even (one is led to believe) meeting up in person.

Obviously a lot of this is rather personal and sensitive; we are, after all, talking about sex and sexual feelings and fantasies.

The blogs

The site also has what it describes as “blogs”, but these  are a bit different from what you’d expect if you’re used to Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal and the like. They’re short posts of up to 1000 characters, accessible from someone’s profile page. As with a standard blog, other users can then comment if they like.

Crucially and disastrously,

  • the posts can also be accessed via a newest blogs page, which is by far the easiest way of getting to them
  • new posts can be created from that page
  • there is no forum on the site
  • users clearly feel the need for a forum.

So, what do they do? They treat the newest blogs page like a forum. Each new post, whatever it is, is treated as a public discussion space. In itself, if done by agreement, this is a reasonable solution. But it’s not necessarily done by agreement; blog posts can have many different purposes, and providing a forum is only one.

A small core of users have been using the blogs this way for so long that they seem quite unaware of what they’re doing. They consider the page to be their territory: not only a forum, but one which they own. They have strong ideas about what should or should not be posted in it, and often a bullying approach towards anyone who questions this.

Suppose someone decides they want to add a little information to their profile. Maybe some further contact information, say. They put this in a blog post. Then when they come back to the post, they’ll find it full of sarcastic responses. Suppose someone likes to post erotic stories or love poems for their partner. They do this in blog posts, meant only for that person to read, but soon there are protests amounting to “Do you really have to clutter up our page with this stuff and make us read it every day?” Well no, you don’t have to read it,  it was never intended for you and it’s not your page anyway. Try having a bit of intelligence and respect . . . !

The site I’m talking about was redesigned several months ago, and one of the changes is that blog comments there can no longer be deleted. So if you write a post and it gets misused or vandalised, the vandalism remains unless you delete the entire post. Unfortunately this effectively creates a new bullying tool: the clique know that if they wreck someone’s post, it can’t be repaired.

Try protesting about the behaviour of this small group, and they quickly become abusive. It’s likely that new posts will appear with titles attacking the person who protested. They will insist that their behaviour is entirely appropriate, saying that this is the Internet and therefore you shouldn’t post things if you don’t like the responses. They will treat any polite request to show respect for another user as an outrageous limitation of their freedom. They will say that it’s an adult site and therefore anything goes. (That’s not what the site’s terms of use say, and in fact abusive material, harassment and even swearing are specifically banned if I’ve read them correctly, but never mind . . . )

The result

The result of this is unsurprising. As the central clique’s behaviour has become worse and more  persistent, people with interesting, thoughtful things to say have gradually stopped making blog posts. What’s the point? They know what will happen. The real discussion happens one-to-one in exchanges of inbox messages, and blog posts are made almost entirely by the blog clique. There are also occasional posts by new members who don’t yet know the situation. They generally post once or twice, become very angry at the way these are treated, then give up posting.

Adults

I find the situation puzzling. People supposedly go there for various kinds of sexy and social interaction, but the behaviour is the total opposite of sexy and quite antisocial. It’s an “adult site”, intended to be visited only by adults, but the behaviour is that of the playground and anything but adult.

What, then, is an adult? The disruptive users seem to think it means “someone who is allowed to do whatever they like”. I disagree. I think an adult, among other things, is someone who

  • is responsible for their own actions
  • is able to control their behaviour appropriately for a given situation
  • uses their intelligence as well as their emotions
  • can understand the effect of their actions on others and behave accordingly.

And for reasons which should be obvious, I think that a site where erotic interactions take place requires people to behave in a more, not less, adult way, out of respect for each other’s sexuality and in order to create a safe atmosphere where such intimacy can take place. The strangest thing to me is that people will go to an adult site, behave in a way which makes adult interaction impossible, then use its adult nature to justify their behaviour. Why go somewhere then sabotage the thing you’re there for? It makes no sense.

I think an adult community does in fact require its members to behave like adults.

Note

Please feel free to comment. But if you happen to know which site I’m talking about, please don’t mention its name—I want this to be a place for free discussion, not a place for stirring up animosity between individuals.

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