The Wholesome Pervert: Part 2
Healthy Porn and Surrogate Partner Therapy
By Mike Reid
Last weekend I introduced you to Caitlin K. Roberts (Read The Wholesome Pervert: Part 1). She is (nearly) a certified sex educator, a Body Pride workshop organizer, and a former Crush TO party host. But wait, there’s more. This week, we explore Caitlin K. Roberts the porn producer and Surrogate Partner Therapy. I learned so much during this interview. Mind blown.
Mike Reid: So far we’ve covered sex education, Body Pride workshops, and inclusive parties. But, you’re also a porn producer. How did that come about?
Caitlin K. Roberts: We had built this little community of people who are awesome and sex positive. I started witnessing my friends having sex in front of me, this isn’t a common experience I’m sure. You start to see the difference between what is in mainstream porn and what actually happens. The difference is so enormous. We thought, we have the people, there are people who would do porn for us. Why don’t we start one? That’s how it happened.
MR: So what are the challenges to having a porn company.
CR: There are very grey laws around anything sex related. Laws around pornography are obscenity laws. You can’t cause lasting damage to someone or their persona. We usually go by community standards.
MR: You watch people having sex in front of you. Then you realize there is a vast difference between real sex and mainstream porn. Why didn’t the eureka moment happen while you yourself were having sex?
CR: Well, I have sex only my way and you rarely see yourself having sex. Once you’re exposed to other people and their versions of sex it opens your eyes. When I was 15 I, of course, Googled porn. What I found online were things that shaped what I thought about sex. That can be really problematic, especially for young people, because most free porn is just scripted entertainment for men. It’s not real. There are often: makeup artists, lighting gear, scripts, shot selections, you’re on set for 8-10 hours a day, there is prep in-between takes, they warm up the males beforehand, they warm up the females beforehand but you don’t see those things. Also, a lot of porn stars put a lot of time and energy into their physical appearance because it directly benefits their work. Think of football players, they sculpt their bodies to benefit their profession. I’m not a football player and it would be stupid of me to think I could jump on a field and do what they do. Same goes for mainstream porn stars; most people don't have the same amount of time, energy or concern to look like this all of the time. We got other shit to do.
MR: I guess it’s put into our minds that we’re supposed to look like what we see in porn. Then also, be able to all the things we see, while looking like that.
CR: Exactly. I’m a 5’ 3” petite woman. I would die if I tried to play football. But with porn, we consume it like it’s normal everyday stuff. A lot of people don’t realise that’s not the way sex should look. Young people strive to emulate and recreate that. As a result, we’re suddenly struck with an onslaught of young men and women who say that they have sexual dysfunction. When in reality they’re not having sex the ways their bodies need them to be having sex.
MR: What do you mean by sexual dysfunction?
CR: It could be anything from vaginismus. Which is a psychological issue where the vagina tightens so much that you can’t have any penetration. For men, it could be premature ejaculation or not being able to cum during sex. Not to mention, “death grip”. Young men are masturbating to porn and squeezing their penis so hard that they need intense stimulation to cum. So having sex with a condom on is impossible.
MR: I assume your porn company, Spit, is well received? Especially since it shows other examples of sex?
CR: Yeah. Our big thing is the diversity: body shapes, abilities, disabilities, ethnicities, orientations. The whole thing, we try and capture it all.
MR: Have there been negatives for you when it comes to being a porn producer? Whether it be with business, opportunities, friends, family?
CR: Oh, 100%. (haha) I’ve had to keep it on the down-low with my extended family for years. I’ve started being upfront and honest because I’m sick of not talking about it. But if my Polish grandparents knew and understood they’d probably disown me. It’s a continuing conversation with my mom, who gets it. She really gets it, because she talks about me highly to her friends and I hear about it. But every now and then she says: “I just don’t understand why you’ve chosen this line of work.”
MR: What do you see as the future of pornography?
CR: I have no clue. I’m hoping the ethical consumption of porn will start growing. Where is your money going? Who is getting paid? You can pay money to also watch people genuinely enjoying themselves and doing what they want to do and paying for this service is basically a vote saying "Yes, more please." Or you can watch porn for free online; the performers aren’t making a profit from you watching the free videos online. PAY FOR YOUR PORN, so we can keep making it.
MR: Is there anyone else doing what you’re doing now?
CR: There’s a bunch of people. Kate Sinclaire, who’s in Winnipeg. She has Ciné Sinclaire and does pretty similar stuff. There’s Shine Louise Houston who does Crash Pad Series in the Bay Area. Kink.com, they focus on the BDSM side of porn. Taylor J Mace does some porn stuff in the city.
CR: There’s ‘Make Love Not Porn’, they’re based out of both Montreal and New York. They’re great, they don’t film or shoot anything. They get all of their content sent in by other people. Which I think is pretty cool. It’s a great business plan.
MR: They’ve created a User Generated Content porn model?
MR: I’m already learning so much Caitlin.
CR: (Haha) Great!
MR: You do and know so much, what else are you doing?
CR: You’ve actually covered most of it. Oh, I’m in my Surrogate Partner training now.
MR: What does that mean?
CR: Surrogate Partner Therapy is a form of therapy that involves the client, therapist and surrogate partner to aid the client in developing social skills, emotional awareness and sensuality. People who’ve suffered sexual trauma and might need help re-creating safe boundaries of intimacy with a person. Or if someone is disabled and unable to seek partners to fulfill a desired goal. Or someone who is really anxious or nervous around sexual interactions. They might need some help learning about inter-relational intimacy skills. Vaginismus is a good example. Someone with vaginismus might get really clinched up and nervous around the idea of sex. Although, a lot of that might be working through the body and helping the body become more comfortable. Creating boundaries that are respected and heard.
MR: In grade school and high school, the birds and the bees are: Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina. The penis goes in the vagina and a baby created. So boys grow up and think, okay, this goes in there. In school, I remember there was some talk about arousal and the penis. But not much of anything regarding the vagina.
CR: A neat thing is that vaginas actually have just as much erectile tissue as penises do. I’ve been doing a lot of research around sex education and the gender stuff gets tricky when you talk about anatomy. Because there isn’t a lot of un-gendered language around anatomy. So pardon me if I screw up here.
MR: Understood. You're heading into tricky gender territory. You are pardoned.
CR: The female pelvic anatomy, and that’s to say if you have a vagina this is probably going to be your anatomy. If you want to enjoy penetration, and this is not everybody but most people, it can be helpful if your erectile tissue should be engorged. Just like if you have a penis, your blood rushes into the tissue and the penis becomes erect. In order to do that you have to build up arousal if it is not something that comes easily to you. If you want sex to be pleasurable to the person with the vagina, it could be useful to make sure that the genitals are engorged, moist and throbbing before you put anything inside.
MR: As a teenager, my assumption was probably that I can think about sex and be ready to go in a second. Therefore, my partner must also be able to do that. Maybe that’s one possible disconnect?
MR: Unless you’ve learnt differently nothing changes because very few people talk about sex. Those lessons never get learned or passed on. Father’s aren’t speaking to sons and even partners aren’t talking to each other.
CR: Uh-huh, and some people are fine. Some people are happy with immediate penetration and that’s cool. However, the fact is most people with vaginas aren’t. Then there are women who come forward and think, I must have some form of sexual dysfunction because I’m not enjoying the sex that I’m having.
CR: When really, maybe society is telling you all these ways you should be having sex and your body is finally saying no. We have women thinking that there is something wrong with them because they’re not able to have this immediate penetrative sex. When in reality, it’s the opposite...
MR: They were never meant to.
MR: If we do the things we’re taught, learn and see. Then how do we stave off the flood? Who do we break the cycle?
CR: That’s the problem.
CR: I think about when I was a young adult. I wanted to have a lot of sex and as a young person. The way you do that is you go drinking. You get drunk to the point where you lose your inhibitions. Start making out with a stranger and then you go home with them. Or you online date.
MR: (Haha) Now you swipe right.
CR: (Haha) Yah. There’s this weird thing that happens with women a lot, and sometimes men too I’m sure. A lot of cultural and societal attitudes suggest that women do their best to be accommodating. To be that chill, “Oh don’t worry about it, I don’t care if it’s a hookup,” “Yeah, just booty call me at 2 am” chick. An attitude of my boundaries aren’t important and I just want to be cool and laid back. “Just let me know when you’re free.” I struggled with this a lot, it wasn't until just a few years ago that I really started to assess what kind of person I actually wanted to be in ANY sort of relationship, and how to make those things known to others involved. It has involved a lot of pushing through uncomfortable vulnerabilities, owning my desires and communicating those things effectively. It doesn't always go as planned, or how I want, but I always come out knowing I owned my Truth.
CR: What are these sexual experiences giving me and what aren’t they giving me? And how do I start changing them so I’m getting what I need from them? We just talked about how there’s this immediate penetration, there’s no interest in my orgasm or my pleasure. That’s not cool. That’s not the experience I want. I want to have sex with someone who genuinely wants to have sex with me. If they genuinely want to have sex with me, then they’re genuinely interested in my pleasure as well. But it's also on me to bring it to the table and know how to do it.
MR: The idea that we teach women to be accommodating. Can that be traced back through history to when a woman’s place was to be married off by their family? Your role is property. Although, that still happens around the world.
CR: Kind of I guess, although now it’s got this weird social haze where we’re kind of dressing it up as "you should have casual sex." If random casual sex is what you want, great. But many people might not want to have it at all.
MR: Make sure it’s what you actually want.
CR: Exactly. Is it what your friends think you should be doing? Is it what Cosmo thinks you should be doing? Or are you just bored on a Friday night? Actually, ask yourself. What do I actually want in this moment?
CR: Of course, most people don’t grow up in households that tell you: “Yes, sex is great and you should have as much as you want." Where you can have open conversations about it. My mother told me that if you have sex with someone you don’t love you’re going to lose a part of your soul. So I had to learn to figure out ways of explaining myself a bit better. To defend my point of view if I was going to continue having an honest relationship with my mother and also myself.
CR: I started reading a lot. Reading turned into writing. Writing turned into workshops. Workshops spawned Crush Parties. Crush Parties transitioned into Spit, and here we are.
MR: (Haha) Here we are indeed.
I really could have spoken to Caitlin forever, but alas our time came to a close. This is the first interview that left me with:
- A reason to clear my browser history after researching topics we discussed.
- A reason to evaluate my relationship with sex.
Many thanks to Caitlin for taking the time to chat with me. There are so many nuggets of gold that can be taken away from this conversation. I hope you left with some really good self-reflecting questions, I know I did.
You can learn more about Caitlin and her projects at caitlinkroberts.com