At the very end of last year, I corresponded with a writer called Jeroen Zuallaert. Zuallaert explained he was a journalist working for the Belgian news magazine, Knack.be — with a readership “at about 95.000, [they] are the leading news magazine in the Benelux countries.”

The Benelux Union is a political and economic coalition of three neighboring nation states in Western Europe: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The name “Benelux” – which sounds to me like a very fancy watch a celebrity would wear — came from joining the first two or three letters of each country’s name. Benelux was first used to name the customs agreement that initiated the union back in 1944. It’s now used more generally to refer to the geographic, economic, and cultural grouping of the three countries.

I didn’t know any of this before being contacted by Zuallaert, so that was pretty neat to learn.

I digress… Zuallaert was working on an article on how technology is influencing sexuality. Specifically, how do sex apps, sex robots, etc. influence the way we have sex?

Zuallaert had contacted me on December 20, with a January 3 deadline. Not one to miss an obligation, I got my responses back in by December 30 — because New Years and such.

Sadly, I have been unable to locate my insights within Knack Magazine, and the writer did not respond to my queries for an update. I point all these things out for you — including the dates — in an effort to disclose the downright frustrating nature of this work, as well as media correspondence in general. There is no telling what happened. All I know is the time I spent was lost responding to Zuallaert was lost…

…but not really! The reason why I overwhelmingly decline audio interviews (as the author had initially requested) is, in part, exactly because of this — disappearing insights and labor. This and rampant misquoting/miscontextualizing. By insisting on a written interview, at least you all get to read it!

Thus, without further ado, enjoy!

Note: Maybe this is the article — “De toekomst van seks: ‘Mensen zijn snel bereid om iets menselijks te zien in robots’?” It’s behind a pay wall though, so I can’t do much more than assess the gist of the topic. The publication date — January 8, 2019 — is a good indicator too. Who knows?

Jeroen Zuallaert: What, in your view, are the main technological evolutions that will influence sexuality in the following decades?

DrCT: Technology that connects people over distances, both large and small, has had a significant impact on sexuality overall (this includes everything from video chat to social media to teledildonics). As technology refines further, developing ways to help those with variable physical abilities, variable sensory abilities and variable interpersonal skills, “secondary”/second generation technologies will further refine the significant strides already made by remote technologies overall.

Jeroen Zuallaert: Has the abundance of pornography online that has grown since the emergence of streaming websites changed the way we think about/have sex. In what way? Does it change our expectations pattern?

DrCT: For some, the accessibility of porn online may certainly have changed the way people think about sex, as well as the mechanics of sex itself. 

Professionally produced adult content is just that – produced by professionals, featuring professionals. When we watch Hollywood films, by contrast, we know that we are watching a movie – a creation featuring actors showcasing a performance. Sadly, for a litany of reasons, we do not understand that porn is just as “entertaining”/professionally produced as Hollywood films, thus we do not contextualize it as such. Additionally, porn necessarily taps into sex-related issues and feelings, and sexuality is something we struggle with, both individually as well as on myriad social levels.  

As porn is more accessible online, we find ourselves in this perfect storm – content that is extremely compelling on various personal levels, but also left without context (because we choose not to understand porn production as media akin to Hollywood films). This certainly may have an impact on what some people “expect” out of sex occurring in their own lives.

Jeroen Zuallaert: Do you see virtual reality becoming the next big thing in pornography? To which extent do you believe this can replace ‘in-real-life’ sexuality?

DrCT:I think that, for the vast majority of consumers, VR may be an interesting excursion or fun thing to try, but it will likely not become the dominant form of adult content consumption. For some, both existing adult content consumers and new viewers, VR may certainly meet their viewing needs perfectly though. 

There is no one universal way to have sex, and there is no one universal way to enjoy media. As such, the notion that VR may somehow replace “in-real-life” sexuality is fairly alarmist as it assumes everyone will connect with that mode of consumption in similarly intense ways. It’s also shortsighted to be alarmist about VR – as in, thinking the use of VR technology is automatically negative — as there are many people in the world who may benefit greatly from VR technology. Making VR out to be some impending catastrophe (as many do, though — as I said — I believe this prediction is off-mark) then functions to shame those who may actually benefit from the technology itself.

Jeroen Zuallaert: Pornography caters to almost any sexual taste nowadays. Does that influence the way we think about sexuality? Do you see a risk of people becoming ‘picky’ as time wears on?

DrCT: I am not sure pornography will beget “pickiness,” however the availability of so many different types of sex media may certainly facilitate some people in finding the exact type of erotic content they desire.

In terms of finding and connecting with very specific content, it’s interesting to consider what may be beneficial about individuals being more vocal about what they desire and prefer when it comes to sex. Perhaps people, having found a visual representation of what they may want sexually via porn, may be able to articulate their desires more definitively within the context of their own sex lives? 

Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.

Get your copy of Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment on Amazon here.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels.

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