#0: Are we haunted by sex?

This newsletter is NSFW


As part of my research into jin asyik (a kind of supernatural creature that falls in love with humans), I’ve been exploring pornography (yes, for work!) — books, movies, blogs, fanfiction websites, the list goes on.

Considering how much of it is produced and how immense this multibillion-dollar industry is worldwide, it’s fascinating that pornography continues to be shocking. That in spite of the over-sexualization of mainstream media, open conversations about sex continues to be seen as taboo.

In Unforbidden Pleasures, Adam Phillips writes that “to forbid something is to make it unforgettable”. He continues, “At its best and at its worst to forbid is to coerce attention and to guarantee interest. It is to arrange a haunting.

Are we all part of cultures that are haunted by sex in different ways? Are both over-sexualization and “sex panic” the result of fear?

The more I explore, the more I discover how much a person’s approach to sex is affected by the cultural, societal and political space in which he/she exists.

And as I apply psychoanalytic theory to porn studies, the question that’s always being asked is: What even is sex?

So yes, I’m curious about sex. About all of it.

From how existing situations — like personal loneliness or a worldwide pandemic — can lead to innovation in sex tech, to the list of criteria that audiences use to differentiate between erotica and pornography.

This newsletter is a way for me to ask those questions — many of which are out of the scope of my research project, but may help to inform it. Writing The Sex Beat is a way for me to stay updated on sex research and the sex industry, as well as distill my thinking on the topic.

Most of all, I hope that by learning in public, I’ll be able to start constructive conversations about this topic that’s such an everyday ordinary part of life but is somehow, “not fit for polite company”.

The Sex Beat was initially a podcast that I started in 2016 to experiment with the audio format. It’s what kick-started my fascination for this topic.

This newsletter is an experiment. If you have any suggestions, hit reply and let me know!

If someone forwarded this to you and you enjoyed reading, go ahead and subscribe.

Thanks for reading,

— Jeannette