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Pure As the Driven Slush (Personal Journal)
December 22nd, Nineteen Ninety Nine: Can You Say "Masturbate" on Morning Radio?

Dear Gaia, what a day it's been so far. Yesterday, I literally spent the whole of my day doing the novelesque entry below. That's okay. The winter solstice has always been a day of introspection for me, and nine times out of ten I spend it writing. However, it meant that today would be spent in a flurry of activity trying to play catch-up after taking last week off. Ad rotations, site updates, backdated mail, things for our legal, the whole shebang. Given my first morning experience, doing all that has been awfully peaceful.

My day was supposed to start with some coffee, a little time to center, and then a brief morning interview on an Atlanta radio station. However, said station clearly didn't hear me when I said 8:15 CENTRAL time several times yesterday, and lo and behold, my alarm this morning was the phone ringing, with an announcer on the other end saying, "Ready?" as B. raced to get me a working phone, I tried to gulp down a glass of water to soothe my scratchy morning throat, and I wondered just what kind of life I'm living to be awakened in this fashion.

The first thing that is clear as this interview starts is that though the researchers saw our site, the media kit, and my extensive resume, the man interviewing me live in my morning haze had not. What he had focused on was that I was once a (oh my!) Kindergarten teacher, and he made a point of letting me and the on air audience know he thought this was terribly scandalous. Now, this was supposed to be a five minute interview, and it ended up being more like four, and my attempt at paraphrasing the damn thing may tell you why. Here goes.

First, the studio lackey dashes on, because no one can pronounce my middle name, per usual. "Heather, how do you pronounce-- "

I interject, knowing. "Core-in-ah," I say.

"Oh," he says, and dashes off, and then I am suddenly accosted by an overly peppy sports-announcer type voice.

"Now, " he says to his audience, "When you think of the Internet you think of porn." (You do? I'm thinking...huh) "But it isn't all for men anymore. A wide variety ("My ass," I say to myself) of new sites have shown up catering to women on this level, and Heather Corinna, who heads up Scarlet Letters, is their femmerotica queen."

I am both amazed and appalled by this queenly reference, as truth be told, most of the folks running the newer sites think I am a bitch from hell, and I really don't need the pressure of being called a queen. But I digress.

"Good morning Heather," he says. I try not to say "Mrrrmmph," and instead manage to say hello, but realize I have no idea what this mans name is.

"So," he says, "There really is a market for this?" I manage to utter something resembling a remark that there is a market, if you call dodging collection agents all day a successful market.

"I read," he says, with a tone in his voice that made me nervous already, "that you were actually a Kindergarten teacher? Do they still let you teach? What do they think of what you do?"

So, in a quick flash, I'm thinking that had I still been teaching, that leer in his voice and pairing my sex work with my teaching with that attitude would have lost me my job right then and there. Thankfully, I left my job a year and a half ago.

"Well, Bob, " I say, thinking his name might be Bob, not sure, but figuring in the realm of male names in Georgia, Bob has as good a chance of being his name as any. "Bob, " I say again for emphasis, "I don't teach anymore, because working two sixty hour a week jobs was a little much for me, and if you think when I was there I had time to talk about anything at all that involved me, let alone a sexuality journal, you clearly haven't been in an understaffed classroom full of 30 five-year-olds. So, I have no idea what anyone thought, but I know the kids usually dug my shoes."

In case you haven't caught on, this wasn't going real well. He's starting to rush it.
"So, women come and look at the pictures here, and they like them?" I get another flash.

"Have you seen the site?" I say.
"Ummm...well, no...I was meaning to -- " Oy.

"Our gallery is one of six sections of the magazine, which is largely text; fiction, articles, editorial, sexual politics, poetry, et cetera. Our readers are diverse, and have pretty diverse tastes."

"So," he's big on starting sentences this way. "Is the statement you're trying to make with what you do that women want porn just like men do, want it just as much, and that their disinterest in it is a stereotype?"

You know, I cannot STAND it when people call the things you do "statements." It's so gauche.

"Not exactly," I say, "because women necessarily don't want the same type of material, and they don't usually use it in the same way."

"Well, " he has that leer again. "What do you mean?"

I say, "As a broad generalization, women don't like to be flooded en masse with piles of images on one page or drowned in lots of salacious, taboo language like you'll find at a lot of standard mainstream porn sites. It has to do with a different presentation, and as well, most women use the material not as something to provide an immediate physical experience in itself, but instead take away what they glean from it to later fuel their sexual imaginations, relationships, and so forth."

"And women use it differently how?" he says. Really, he was asking for it, wasn't he? He had me backed in a corner.

"As I said, Bob, " I say, more tired than when I woke up, "many women -- and recently, more men -- use sexual material like ours as a sort of springboard, rather than using it as others have in the past as something solely to masturbate to."

Incredibly, the interview was over right there and then, it was thank-you-oh-so-very-much-and-boy-do-we-have-to-go-right-this-very-minute.

I don't think you're supposed to say "masturbate" on Atlanta morning radio, but you know, it's certainly less offensive than being woken up by a lunatic-fringe disc jockey who wants to make you into Mary Poppins Fallen Astray.

I'll tell you, had I started my day masturbating, I would have been a whole lot happier.

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