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In the world of modern sex education, online pornography is teacher, textbook, mentor and Cyprian.

And what do most young people learn? Women learn that sex is a bit like choking on your dinner, followed by a light physical assault and a soft wipes cleanup familiar to many new mothers. Boys learn that their role is to emulate men with genitals like cattle and the language skills of grumpy children.

Porn has taken some years to narrow in on this incredibly mediocre routine, a kind of jerky, over-lit masturbation aid for men and boys whose archetypal experience of the feminine nude remains twisting the buttery, hairless legs on their sisters’ Barbie dolls.

But what would porn (and our sex lives) look like if it weren’t led shank and halter by the dressing-gown sheathed impresarios of the adult film industry?

A new site set up to crowd fund porn – Offbeatr – gives us a glimpse.

Already, Furoticon, an online translation of the eponymous furry card game (‘furry’ fetishists dress as animals), has raised USD 40,591.

Investors were no doubt turned on by the following sales pitch:

‘Sukouri, the sexy squirrel girl, will drop her robe as she enters bed! Arn, the dominant wolf, will thrust powerfully into Kanette, the lusty otter girl! And Boy Toy, the effeminate college student, will get on his hands and knees while Grizzwald, the large grizzly bear, takes him from behind!’

A little over USD 5000 has gone to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!, a DVD project aimed at cosplay fiends:

‘Cosplay, also known as costume play, is defined by Wikipedia as: “a type of performance art in which participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character.” So, have you ever wanted to watch Sailor Moon get f-cked by Tuxedo Mask? See Xena and Gabrielle scissor? What about Harley Quinn and Ivy go at it?’

You get the idea. Nerds rule this site, or rather knurds – the correct spelling from Rensselaer Polytechnic in the ‘40s, meaning simply ‘drunk’ backwards.

But what is tremendous about this site, where it shows potential, is in the variety of porn on offer.

Porn doesn’t ruin young peoples sex lives – if anything, the bedroom habits of 50 years ago, when an enormous percentage of the population was literally groping in the dark, involved more dull, one sided, humourless sex.

The lights have been switched on, but all that’s currently on display, at least what’s mostly on display in the obvious places where nervy virgins look, is one very boring, commoditised, and frequently cruel vision of sex. 

There is nothing natural or inevitable about this vision of sex. It represents our base desires no more than the most popular restaurant chains like McDonald’s represents what we really want to eat.  McDonald’s food is the end product of a hyper-efficient paddock-to-plate food sourcing chain, mangled through the dim memory of authentic American cuisine. Likewise mainstream porn represents what is cheap and fits the bill.

And like cheap food, cheap porn is often made by bosses that worship money over people.

There is porn made illegally, exploitatively, with ‘actors’ who are no doubt trafficked women/men or addicts or ingénues.

Even in the absence of crime, though, there is still a unique kind of misery in much mainstream porn. Many male porn actors seem to hate women, spit at them, gravitate towards scripts where women are sluts, whores, bitches – as easily discarded as the clump of Kleenex the remote viewer uses to collect their loveless denouement.

As Chris Hedges wrote in Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle:

'The cruelty takes a toll on the bodies, as well as the emotions, of porn actresses. Many suffer severe repeated vaginal and anal tears that require surgery.The male stars are encouraged to be rough and hostile.'

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea of films or photos of people having sex – as Nina Power has written, much early French porn was incredibly playful and delighted in the silliness and humour of sex. 

'Men pretend to be statues of fauns for curious women to tickle; two seamstresses fall into a fit of giggles as their over-excited boss falls off the bed; a bawdy waitress serves a series of sexually-inspired meals to a man dressed as a musketeer before joining him for “dessert”.'

Porn before the porn industry was humanist, alive, pleasurable, rather than 'a succession of grim orgasms and the parading of physical prowess'. But in the absence of variety consumers are channeled into choosing products made by monsters. 

Offbeatr and its precursors—blogs and magazines like Suicide Girls, Supercult, Inkygirls, even the former London toff sex sheet The Erotic Review – all have made efforts to remedy this.

By making porn intellectual, feminist, cartoonish, or by at least involving actors that look like normal people rather than permatanned mules, these creators have kick-started the great and wholesome job of eradicating the gaze of profit hungry male directors from the fantasy lives of young people. 

As Good Magazine said recently, even having porn actors hold hands is a major development in this repetitive industry.

Offbeatr and its ilk are also discovering ways to fund and produce porn outside of the exploitative mainstream – hopefully protecting the actors themselves from abuse.

Of course, there are some who will not recognise this good work – those who just can’t see the interesting, conversational, funny, and often banal side to sex. To them, sex is something sacred in the dumbest, rosary-quivering, cloistered and curtain-twitching sense, to be observed, understood, and carried out in grim silence, like scrubbing scorched bacon grease off a skillet or putting down a sick farm animal.

But these perverts are in the minority.

Sooner or later the ubiquity of porn will make moral outrage at the latest graphic romance seem as ridiculous as vilifying footage of people singing or eating. Porn will have become normal – and we'll be able to look at it like anything else not shrouded in taboo, to judge it as interesting or boring, ethically or cruelly produced. 

Sites like Offbeatr have this already-here-but-unevenly-distributed-future covered.

Daniel Stacey is Editor of Radio National Online.